Chris Dickson said he had one challenge to overcome as a first-year head coach of the Augusta Prep tennis team.
Augusta Prep's state championship tennis team members are: Connor Bergeron (from left), Ajay Sethi, Cary Goldsmith, Jaron Bergeron, Michael Crosland, Parker Odom, Neil Shine, Kathryn Stone, Keaton Sanders and Kathryn Peacock.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"I think the main challenge was just managing the talent we had this year," said Dickson. "We had so many good players. It was just a matter of finding a place for all of them to play."
Dickson replaced successful coach Mark Farmer, who left to teach at Forsyth Country Day School in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Farmer had coached Prep to a state championship in boys tennis and both boys and girls doubles teams won state titles as well as having the individual girls state champion.
Dickson one-upped Farmer in 2005 in the Class AAA team competition.
Prep again won the boys state title in tennis. It is the sixth state championship in boys tennis for the Cavaliers since 1998.
But the girls team also won the state title, its first since 1998.
"It was amazing to be a part of this group," said Dickson. "They were unbelievably talented and deserved to be the state champs."
Also winning state championships were the boys and girls doubles teams.
Martha Burton Nally and Kathryn Stone won their second consecutive state doubles title and both return next season for a shot at a third.
"I'm definitely not breaking them up next year," said Dickson. "Their job is safe."
Keaton Sanders and Kathryn Peacock made it to the semifinals and nearly made it an Augusta Prep championship match.
There was an Augusta Prep final in the boys doubles tournament.
Peyton Bell and Michael Crossland beat Cary Goldsmith and Ajay Sethi in three sets to win the title. Bell, a senior, also won last year's double title with Shiv Sharma.
In the singles tournaments, the Cavaliers lost in the championship match.
Neil Shine, who made it to the semifinals last year, lost to David Tillem of the Weber School.
Shine won the first set, 6-3, but had a leg cramp in the second set and went on to lose (7-6) (6-1) in the final two sets.
"We thought this was Neil's year but he had that cramp," Dickson said. "He is an awesome kid, and we will miss him next season."
Prep's Jaron Bergeron also lost to Tillem, in straight sets in the second round.
Prep's Cary Gibson fell short of repeating as the girls state champ, losing to Link Leskosky of Stratford in the championship.
Leskosky, who is going to play tennis at Georgia, had dropped only one game the entire tournament - to Prep's Shikha Jerath in the second round.
Gibson lost the first set (6-0) but battled back, losing the second set (7-5).
"Cary played the best match I've ever seen her play," said Dickson. "She went through the region this year without losing a game, but Link is an amazing player. Cary played great and really pushed her."
Prep will have another strong team next year. The Cavaliers graduate just two girls and three boys from the state title teams.
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