Tennis blog: Loaded Walton girls rolling toward 23rd title

Credit: Special photo

Credit: Special photo

The Walton girls return another loaded lineup this spring and appear to have the skills to add to their collection of state championships. The Raiders have won 22 state titles, including the last two in the highest classification.

Walton is 10-0 and has lost only two lines all season. The Raiders have beaten two other defending state champions – Northview and Pace Academy – and will face Marist in the final regular-season tune up before the state playoffs begin.

“This is by far the most talented team I’ve ever had,” coach Anthony Fotti said. “They’re all a year old, a year better and a year stronger.”

The Raiders return two-time AJC Player of the Year Hayden Mulberry at No. 1 singles. He hasn’t come close to losing a match all season. The junior recently committed to play at Notre Dame.

Grace Keller returns at No. 2 singles and ninth grader Reagan Mulberry, Hayden’s younger sister, is playing No. 3 singles.

The No. 1 doubles team fluctuates between Catherine Dierker, Abigail Morgan and Alex Alterman. Dierker and Morgan played No. 1 last year and Alterman is returning from an injury. The No. 2 doubles team is Amala Arun, who played No. 3 singles last year, and Natalie Kirka.

The Raiders are also celebrating the return of on-campus tennis courts, something they haven’t had for eight years because of school construction. The team had been playing their matches at Terrell Mill Park.

The Raiders dedicated their new tennis courts and dedicated Court One to Roberta Manheim, who started it all. Manheim was the coach from 2004-2011 and won eight state championships. During that span the Raiders were 147-0, the longest winning streak in Georgia history in any sport. Manheim was present to receive the honor and watch Walton beat Cherokee 4-1.

Another court was dedicated to the Walton Booster Club, which pair construction of an additional court so all five lines can be competing at the same time.