By Zach Shugan
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The Johns Creek boys tennis team is among a small group of recent dynasties in the North Fulton area.
The Gladiators have won the past two state championships in 2018 and 2019, but the pandemic kept them from claiming a third-straight state title in 2020.
Four seniors who have been with team since 2018 are back in 2021 looking to win their third state championship, and they have Johns Creek ranked No. 6 in the nation, the only team from Georgia and only public school team in the top 10.
“It’s a luxury to have this strong of a team and been consistently strong for four years now,” Johns Creek head coach Todd Hedden said. “We’re very fortunate. What most team have as their No. 1 singles, we have all the way down the line. That doesn’t happen a lot, and it won’t happen again. This just happened to be a perfect storm of us getting all these players, especially those four guys as freshmen. It’s been sort of a factory of good boys tennis players coming into the school.”
It’s only March, but so far the chances at a three-peat are looking good for the unbeaten Gladiators. Johns Creek won 4-1 over Cambridge in a region match Wednesday at Medlock Bridge, improving to 7-0 overall this season and 3-0 in Region 7-6A.
Seniors Jack Lee and Eric Wu and junior David Sanchez each won 2-0 in their singles matches, and seniors Brittain Lee and Eli Hirshberg won 2-0 in their doubles match.
“Cambridge is probably the toughest team we play within the region, so to beat them the way we did was definitely a big deal for us,” Hedden said.
Johns Creek will put its undefeated record on the line next week against Peachtree Ridge and Centennial. The Gladiators have four region contests remaining before the region tournament, which takes place the final week of March.
Then, assuming the Gladiators finish in the top four of the region tournament, they would advance to the 6A state tournament in April, where they hope to defend their title as back-to-back state champions.
“Our toughest region matches are Cambridge and Centennial next week,” Hedden said. “They’ve got a pretty good team as well. We’re feeling good. I like our chances of going undefeated for the season.”