Lauren Bolton and Courtney Wiley never lost perspective of why they were playing tennis at North Hall. Even with a remarkable string of success, the North Hall High seniors never made the competition more important than the team camraderie and time spent with friends.
They never thought of pursuing an opportunity to play tennis in college. Nor was there an effort to improve their respective games with lessons from professionals or playing on expensive traveling circuits.
"I’ve never taken a tennis lesson in my life," Bolton said.
"The first lesson I took was from someone at Oglethorpe before state this year," Wiley said.
But a lack of fancy training and advanced competition didn’t stop this pair of friends since first grade from amassing a remarkable 40-0 record in Region 7-AAA play the past two seasons. Most of these matches weren’t even close, winning without the aid of a third set in that stretch.
"I never thought I would have this kind of career," Bolton said. "It was so much fun getting to play with my best friend and we knew we could always count on each other on the court."
For their efforts, Bolton and Wiley are the Times 2008 Girls Tennis Players of the Year.
"Courtney and Lauren have dominated Region 7-AAA like no other team ever has," North Hall coach Roger Fannon said. "We could always count on them winning."
Bolton and Wiley could blend their strengths together to make a more dangerous doubles team. Wiley was more suited to perform the short chop shots over the net. Bolton was stronger at the shots down the alley.
"Courtney and Lauren get along so well and that really helped with their communication on the court," Fannon said. "They always knew what the other was going to do."
"I don’t think we really even needed to talk on the court to know what the other was doing," Wiley said.
The first time Wiley and Bolton picked up a tennis racket was in the months leading up to tennis tryouts their freshman year with some basic instruction from the mother of their friend and North Hall’s No. 2 singles player Hayley Crowder.
Bolton and Wiley immediately gravitated to tennis with some of the fundamentals in place.
"I remember we didn’t take it too seriously at first," Wiley said. "But then we started getting serious and knew we could be good."
As dominant as these two Lady Trojans were as seniors, they weren’t always the favorite to win, such was the case against West Forsyth in the Region 7-AAA tournament.
Fannon heard feedback from other coaches all season that West Forsyth’s No. 1 doubles pair was the best in the region. North Hall never played West Forsyth during the season, so there was a lack of head-to-head reference to base any prognostications.
But the scouting report leading into the Region 7-AAA tournament confirmed those earlier predictions with West Forsyth picked to win that match.
"Everyone was saying that West Forsyth had the No. 1 doubles pair," Fannon said. "And I think that Courtney and Lauren took that as a challenge and worked very hard to win that match."
Bolton and Wiley silenced the critics with a 6-4, 6-2 win against the Lady Wolverines. Wiley says it was a battle all the way through.
"It was a very intense match," Wiley said. "They (the No. 1 doubles team from West Forsyth) were awesome."
When Fannon took over the Lady Trojans tennis program their junior season, in 2007, he didn’t initially peg Bolton and Wiley as his No. 1 doubles pair. His process to make a complete team was more like a mix and match effort to put together the pieces to make the best team.
North Hall already had a dominant singles player with then-senior Carly Franze. Fannon said all the other players were of an even talent level.
He learned quickly from their on-court demeanor that Bolton and Wiley were perfectly suited to dominate at that No. 1 doubles position.
Now that their high school tennis careers are over, Bolton and Wiley can look back on this time as a positive experience for the time spent together, more so than the wins.