Habersham School Tennis Smashing: Girls' Team THREE-PEATS GAPPS DI State Championship, Patriots Secure 3 out of 4 other Titles

By Nathan Dominitz for the Prep Sports Report | May 6, 2024

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Opponents scheduled to face The Habersham School girls tennis team couldn’t be sure of the Patriots’ lineup for the three singles positions from match to match.

It was basically true as well for their coach, Cameron Hunt. The senior trio of Faith Devey, Lucy Kelly and AJ Cadle rotated from No. 1 to 2 to 3 seeds this season as the Patriots won their third consecutive Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools (GAPPS) Division I state crown.

“I had all three playing (No.) 1 at some point throughout the year,” Hunt said. 

“I like it. It’s a great asset to have three girls that are all great tennis players, that are all equally good. It makes your second and third lines very strong.”

When Devey, primarily at No. 1, missed a few weeks of the regular season due to a back injury, Kelly (usually the No. 2) and Cadle each played on the top line. 

All three were ready to compete for Habersham at the championships on April 29-30 at Berry College in Rome.

But there was a curveball, to borrow a baseball term. Cadle won the Division I girls singles title during the individual tournament on April 29. For the team tournament the next day, Hunt moved her from No. 3 to No. 1, and Devey to No. 3 – “which is the oppositive as we played most of the season,” he said.

“It was kind of surprising,” Hunt said. “(Cadle) played the best. She has a great game and played the best tennis at the end of the year.”

Cadle ousted teammate Devey – the defending girls singles titlist – in one semifinal. Kelly, the 2022 girls champion, fell in the other semifinal to Josey Harrell of Vidalia Heritage Academy. 

Cadle then defeated Harrell 6-3, 6-3 to become the third different Patriot to capture the D1 girls singles title in three seasons.

PHOTO (l-r): Faith Devey, Anna Cadle, Lucy Kelly

“AJ by far has the strongest groundstrokes, has the most power. But the other girls are more consistent,” Hunt said. “It creates certain matchup problems. The three of them all have certain types of girls they play better against than others. All three of them are very similar in skill level, and they beat each other on a regular basis (at practice). No matter where I put them, I knew that they would be OK.”

He was correct. The Habersham School ousted Sherwood Christian Academy 3-0 in the semifinals and did the same in the final against Rock Springs Christian Academy of Milner to finish the year 16-2.

“Against Rock Springs, we just had too much depth,” said Hunt, whose squad also beat the Eagles in the 2023 final, after downing Grace Christian Academy of Fayetteville for the 2022 crown.

Habersham didn’t need to rely on Cadle at No. 1 and Kelly at No. 2, who were leading competitive matches when the Patriots secured an insurmountable 3-0 advantage. Devey dominated at No. 3 singles; the No. 1 doubles tandem of sophomore Georgia Reed and freshman Betsy Kelly did the same; as did the No. 2 doubles pair of junior Izzy Arvin and sophomore Lindsey Norman.

The two doubles teams were so strong, they had met in the individual tournament finals a day earlier, with Reed and Kelley (Lucy’s sister) claiming the title with a 6-3, 6-3 victory. 

PHOTO (l-r): Georgia Reed and Betsy Kelly

Habersham also won the doubles title on the boys’ side, as seniors Hamilton Colley and Ike Barry improved to 19-0 this season with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Josh McDaniel and Jason Bates of Rock Springs Christian.

PHOTO (l-r): Hamilton Colley and Ike Barry 

That gave the Patriots three of the four D1 titles, with the Habersham boys squad finishing as runner-up in the team final 3-0 to Sherwood Christian Academy of Albany.

Habersham’s boys, who claimed a state title in 2021, finished 12-6, including a 3-2 victory over Rock Springs Christian in the semifinals.

“I was really proud of the boys,” Hunt said. “They really did advance more than I originally expected. We had some really good wins this year.”

Among those he noted were the five seniors: Colley, Barry, Wyatt Denmark, Ben Chambers and Sam Peterson. Luke Johnson, a junior, and No. 1 Peterson advanced to the boys singles semifinals.

“The boys played their best tennis at the end of the year. They stepped it up,” Hunt said. “The girls, too, especially AJ. She started playing her best, most-confident tennis at the end of the year, which is all you can really ask for. We had some times in the middle of the season where we weren’t playing our best – still getting by but not playing the best and squeaking through some.”

They dealt with injuries, including to eighth-grader Myla Shippy, lost for the season to a back ailment. There were lineup changes and “we just really didn’t have a groove,” the coach said. “We kind of figured it out.”

Next, the program which Hunt started seven years ago will have to figure out how to move on without eight graduating seniors, including Cadle, Devey and Lucy Kelly on the girls side.

“We’re going to rebuild,” he said of the girls team, noting that the underclassmen learned from the seniors. “We’ll still be strong. We’re going to miss these three girls, for sure, because they’ve been a part of these three state championships and heavily a part of it all three years. We’ve still got some good talent coming up.”

The school enrollment is only about 60 in grades 9-12, Hunt said, which makes the sustained success of the tennis programs even more impressive.

“They do well. They work hard,” he said. “I know we’re a small school. For a small school, we’ve got some pretty good tennis players.

“I’m extremely proud to be their coach,” said Hunt, who also coaches the middle school tennis teams. “Just being able to watch them grow from kind of beginners to where they are now, the work they put in. It’s been really great, really fun to see.”


Photo Credits: The Habersham School Athletic Department

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