The Augusta junior tennis team finished third in the 2012 USTA Junior Team Tennis State Championship, but the Runners are returning for the second consecutive year and seeking a higher finish.
“The kids just want it so bad,” coach Domenick Testi said. “They’re out here practicing all the time. We’re fine-tuning them, all their shots, trying to get out all the little errors.”
The team is comprised of seven 14- to 18-year-olds from area high schools, including two from Lakeside’s girls state championship squad. The Runners are based at Warren Road but play other teams throughout the area in the CSRA Team Tennis program, where they finished 10-0 each of the past two years.
There are four boys and three girls on the team.
The third-place finish last year was the first appearance in the state tournament for the group. The team will return to Macon, Ga., for another shot at a title July 26, and confidence is high leading up to the event.
“I feel like we have a lot stronger team this year, so I think it will definitely be a lot closer,” said Micah Jeffcoat, a 16-year-old player from Curtis Baptist. “I think we have a good shot at winning it, better than we ever have.”
Testi said much of the team’s strength is in its fiery attitude.
The team’s members play with a passion that reveals itself when errors are made, but they are quick to pick up themselves and their teammates.
“That makes them better,” he said. “They get a little perturbed when they make an error, but it’s how you put that aside and go forward.”
Jeffcoat, who is the leading player on his Curtis Baptist team as a junior, said expectations are high.
“I’m expecting us to hopefully win the whole tournament,” he said. “My goal is to win it. Personally, I’m going to do the best I can. If we perform like I know we can, we have a chance to win