The Banks County tennis program has long been a force in Northeast Georgia, but there’s a special feeling surrounding this season’s Leopards and Lady Leopards.
Since the 2012 season, the Lady Leopards have won north of 50 matches and made the state playoffs every year save 2016. This despite having three head coaches in six years. Jim McKinney, long-time boys coach, makes it four in the last seven when taking over the girls program prior to the 2018 season.
The 2017 girls group under Wendy Collins advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since the 2012 powerhouse team that went 13-3 and won a region title.
But to the present, the girls are off to a very good 8-1 start that includes a spotless 2-0 mark in Region 8-AA. The Lady Leopards have already passed last season’s total of 7 wins. The crazy thing is, this team is younger. Take for instance a freshman starts at #1 singles, Chloe Smith, who McKinney says is a “fighter.”
The Leopards on the other hand are 6-3 overall and 1-1 against region foes. They’re finally playing at full strength, as McKinney says they had to play with just five for awhile while basketball season was still going on, as many of the players were a part of yet another strong Leopards basketball playoff run.
The boys have made state five years in a row, winning 57 games from 2013-2017, winning back-to-back region titles in 2016 and 2017, and reaching new heights last season with an Elite 8 run. Three seniors helped lead that team, but this group is special as well.
The Banks County tennis teams both have some work to do still this season, but the winning foundation is there. These boys and girls are expecting nothing less than another postseason trip. Only this time, it’s not just a matter of getting there, but how far they’ll go.