Undefeated Lady Barons have bigger goal in mind


Hustle. Hit. Win.

It's been the cheer for the Wilson Hall varsity girls tennis team at the end of matches this season, and so far the Lady Barons have done plenty of each - especially winning.

After going undefeated in the regular season last year, WH is one more victory away from doing it again this year. At 14-0, the Lady Barons need a victory on Monday against Heathwood Hall to close out an unblemished first part of their season.

But Debby Williams' squad has much bigger goals in mind. The only loss suffered last year was against Ashley Hall in the SCISA 3A state semifinals. Now WH is looking to go even further this time around.

"The girls know that it takes a lot of hard work," Williams said. "They've bought into it and they're already talking about what kind of practices we're going to have when we get into the playoffs in a couple of weeks.

"They know we've got to step it up and really fine-tune our game and never give up."

The Lady Barons' current success and potential future success lies in the wealth of talent and experience they have returning from last year's squad. Five of the top six positions are back with only No. 2 singles player Sallie Spencer having departed.

Shelby Guldan, the No. 5 singles player in 2016, has stepped into that role and an even bigger one. A pair of challenge-match victories slipped Guldan into the No. 2 role, and when No. 1 player Zan Beasley was sidelined with an illness for a few matches, Guldan was bumped up to the top spot.

"She didn't miss a step and was undefeated while she played No. 1," Williams said. "I think her biggest win came against Cardinal Newman's No. 1 because she's a seasoned player. We got together before the match and during the match and talked about what she needed to do.

"That's the great thing about Shelby and really all of them. They listen to coaching and they respond to it and they go out and do it."

She provides a potent 1-2 punch with Beasley, who returns for her senior season and her final one leading the Lady Barons.

"Tennis has just been her passion since starting in the eighth grade I think," Williams said. "She's a year-round player and is the type of player that's usually on the court all day. I have confidence in her every time she goes out there that's she's going to give it her best."

Emily Anne Beasley, Lizzy Davis, Carly Allred and Bella Land make up the rest of the returnees and the final four singles players. All were on last year's squad with Emily Anne returning to the No. 3 spot and Davis back at No. 4 -- a spot in which she is undefeated so far this season, Williams said.

"They've all grown since last year and I think all of them are playing their best tennis," Williams added. "That's the thing about this group. They're a very a mature team and they know what they have to do to in order to win.

"They're fun to watch and make things easy on a coach."

There are two newcomers in senior Steph Areford and junior Ingrid Singleton. Neither had actually ever played tennis before this year, but each has stepped into big roles in both doubles and filling in the No. 6 singles spot when Zan Beasley was out.

"I can see that they really enjoy it, even practices," Williams said of the two newcomers. "They've had to learn the game from the ground up - scoring, how to hit a forehand and a backhand, and they've caught on to it."