What Wagner didn’t know is how well it would all come together for Woodstock.
The coach benefitted from a pair of sisters — Savannah and Gabrielle Wood — who enrolled at the school, but also saw the overall talent level increase over the off-season. Returning players like Nicole Poirier improved over the summer.
Wagner, an 8-year veteran, led the team to a 15-5-1 record. The Lady Wolverines reached the Class AAAAAA state playoffs where they nearly upset Peachtree Ridge.
For leading the team through a season of changes, Wagner has been named the 2013 Cherokee Tribune Girls Tennis Coach of the Year.
“This team overall was just amazing,” said Wagner. “This is the first team that from when last season ended until we got back together for tryouts in January, that every player had improved. I knew right then that we could do well.”
Woodstock competes in a tough region with Walton and Milton—which combined to win seven of the last eight state titles.
“I knew we had our work cut out for us,” said Wagner, who had to make adjustments early in the season when a player went down with injury. “I had to ask some girls to do some things I don’t think they were prepared to do. Some girls playing doubles who would have preferred singles and some girls surprised they were playing singles, but they accepted it. They didn’t complain and they got better.”
Wagner said he accepts the honor as the Coach of the Year, but thinks it reflects more upon the team.
“That’s ultimately is what it is about,” said Wagner. “You keep improving and make sure your players are continuing to improve.”
Savannah Wood moved into the spot at No. 1 singles, while her younger sister teams up with Lauren Nielly at No. 1 doubles.
“We graduated our No. 1 singles player Nicole Nielly, Lauren’s sister, so there was no one waiting in the wings,” said Wagner. “When we graduated Nicole and Tiffany (Meyers)—a great one-two punch – we didn’t have a clear person to step in and Savannah did that. I don’t know that we would have made it to the state tournament without her. One player can change the lineup dramatically.”
Wagner said he is most proud of the girls for living up to the expectations that had been set.
“In the matches we were supposed to win, they played well,” he said. “In the tougher matches, they played tough. I can’t complain about that.”