Repeating perfection isn't easy.
The Augusta Prep boys tennis team enjoyed a virtually perfect season last year in its pursuit of a second-straight GISA AAA state championship.
This year, the path to a state title wasn't as clear.
"Last year was by far the best year. We struggled a bit more this year," senior Jaron Bergeron said.
Last season's team went 5-0 in every match they played, so Bergeron and fellow senior Michael Crosland led a 2006 squad with high expectations and big shoes to fill. Making the feat even more challenging, more than half of the roster was made up of underclassmen.
Bergeron led the way as the No. 1 singles player along with his brother, No. 2 singles man Connor Bergeron (sophomore). The team also included No. 3 singles player Robert Yu (freshman) and the doubles pairs of Cary Goldsmith (junior) and Ajay Sethi (sophomore) and Michael Crosland (senior) and Lawrence Andrew (freshman).
With the No. 1 singles player and one of its No. 1 doubles players graduated from last year's team, the significance of Augusta Prep's losses showed early.
"We lost our first match of the year to Westminster," Bergeron said. "We were worried. We knew we had a good chance (to win a state championship), but it was going to be tougher."
In the end, the Cavaliers did win another state title. Under the direction of head coach Chris Dickson, Augusta Prep knocked off Westminster in a rematch to advance to the state tournament.
The Cavaliers beat Riverside Military in the state semifinals 3-0, with Bergeron winning 6-1, 6-1.
In the finals, Bergeron again dominated with a 6-0, 6-0 finish, and Augusta Prep claimed its third consecutive boys tennis state championship.
"The fact that we were pushed back against the wall helped. The whole team had that hunger to win," Bergeron said. "That's a nice way to finish your senior year."
Now with three state championships on his rsum, Bergeron will take his game to Mercer University.
He said that even though he'll play without his Augusta Prep teammates, he'll always remember the team motto, most often used by Crosland: "No excuses. Play like a champion."
That's been Bergeron's style for the past three years.
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