The varsity boys tennis team at North Gwinnett High School is starting its new season after a monumentally successful run last year.
In the 2021 GHSA AAAAAAA state tennis championship, the North Gwinnett boys defeated Lambert High School three matches to zero. In fact, the Bulldogs tennis team shut out all of their opponents throughout the tournament, with the exception of conceding one match to South Forsyth in the second round.
Following such an outstanding season, however, head coach Starr Shuler thinks this will be a rebuilding year for the program.
“We are all very proud of last season’s success, but this is a new season and a new team, and we are approaching it as such,” Shuler said. “I have another amazing group of players with a lot of young talent.”
NGHS tennis has three returning players from last year’s championship varsity team, and Starr is counting on their leadership to help capitalize on the strong dedication and commitment of the rest of the team.
In particular, she highlighted Lucas Mruk and Richard Zhou as her standout players, both for leadership and talent.
“Lucas is a returning senior and my captain this season. He is a smart and composed player who leads his teammates by example,” Shuler said. “Richard Zhou is an all-around talented individual. He cares deeply about this team and always brings his best. These are players I can always count on to leave it all on the court.”
Despite feeling it’s a rebuilding year, Shuler remains optimistic about the raw talent of her younger players who care passionately about the team and the sport. She’s excited to see how they can grow in confidence and ability with more competitive matches and varsity experience.
Although the team hasn’t necessarily set its eyes on a consecutive state championship this season, it will surely be absorbing to see how the young athletes can grow under the leadership of its coaches and senior players.
“Right now, we are focused on improving our game and building a team atmosphere,” Shuler said. “I am excited to see what they will grow into with more match exposure over the next few months.”
FEATURED PHOTO: The North Gwinnett boys tennis team placed first in the 2021 GHSA AAAAAAA state tennis championship. Photo courtesy of North Gwinnett High School athletics.