The Lady Wolverines weren’t far away from being a contender, and coach Jeff Wagner knew the players had it in them.
Realizing their potential was one of the first things the Woodstock players and coaches discussed when the offseason began. Wagner went on to discuss four goals for the 2012 campaign — finish as a top-10 team, increase their standing in Region 5AAAAA, beat archrival Etowah and go deeper in the state tournament.
Wagner knew the talent was there during the offseason, and he challenged the Lady Wolverines to improve in all phases of the game. They did just that, finishing the year 14-5, and Wagner is the 2012 Cherokee Tribune Girls Tennis Coach of the Year for his efforts.
Woodstock ended the season ranked ninth in Class AAAAA, after ascending as high as fifth. The Lady Wolverines also achieved the goals that were set for them — beating Etowah in region play, finishing second in the region to Walton and winning their first-round state playoff match against Milton.
“Those were really our big goals that we set,” said Wagner, whose team went on to lose to Peachtree Ridge in the second round. “The thing I’m proud of most for the girls this year was that we were able to accomplish all of those things.”
Going into this season, Wagner knew he had one of the region’s stronger 1-2 punches at singles with Western Carolina-bound Nicole Nielly and Tiffany Meyers, who had played singles for Woodstock since their freshmen years. The two combined to go 23-10 on the year.
Wagner also benefited from having his No. 1 doubles pair — Alyssa Kroll and Nikki Poirier — back together. Kroll battled mononucleosis last year and missed half the season.
Kroll and Poirier went 13-4, losing twice to Walton, and once each to Peachtree Ridge and eventual state champion Roswell.
Another plus for Woodstock was the pairing of freshmen Gabrielle Wood and Brooklyn Milone at No. 2 doubles.
The turning point of the season was Kroll and Poirier coming from behind to help Woodstock beat Etowah 3-2 on March 20. The Lady Wolverines followed that up with a non-region win over eventual state semifinalist Kennesaw Mountain, and they went into the region final against Walton on a nine-match winning streak.
“We never (beat Etowah) before,” Wagner said. “Even though you have the talent to beat them, you have to get over the specter that it’s Etowah, and these girls were able to do that this year. Etowah is a great team with good tradition, and our girls stepped up to the challenge.”
After beating Milton in the first round of the state tournament, Woodstock also stepped up to the challenge at Peachtree Ridge, despite falling 3-0. The Lady Wolverines made most of the matches competitive before ultimately falling short.