Chamblee Tennis Serves L’s and Takes State


Photo courtesy of Chamblee tennis.

The CCHS women’s tennis team.

Matthew Welsh, Staff writer

Over the past few years at Chamblee Charter High School, if you want to see a Chamblee team actually win, your best bet is probably a tennis match.

Both the boys and girls varsity tennis teams began the 2019 season with state title aspirations and one of them has already cashed in on those plans.The girls took home their third straight class AAAAA state championship this past Saturday at the Rome Tennis Center, solidifying their place among Georgia’s most elite tennis programs.

“Everyone expected us to win because we had already won twice, so there was kind of a lot of pressure. Some of it was lifted though because we were undefeated and ended up  losing a match but it was still really fun to go through the whole experience again,” said sophomore team member Samantha Mccrery.

Former teammate Olena Bilukha largely led the Bulldogs to their two previous titles, leaving the fate of this year’s team in her teammates’ hands after graduating in 2018.

“Last year we had one very strong senior who won all of her matches, and she was undefeated in her high school career, so a lot of people were wondering what it would be like without her this year but we still managed to win state,” said Junior Ellie Gies.

Although this may be a familiar feeling for many of the Lady Bulldogs, the team ensures that this year’s squad is as talented and unique as ever.

“Our stronger players do their own club training, so I think that was completely on them and they took up the responsibility to practice on their own and they ended up doing well,” said senior Caitlyn Liu.

This overall level of dedication infects every member of the team, a trend that starts and ends with team captains Grace Pietkiewicz and Madeline Meer.

“This was by far the easiest year of state finals ever. In previous years, we’ve had multiple close matches, and both years I had split sets with my opponent. But this year I didn’t even finish my match because the rest of the team finished so quickly! I was winning though, along with the other match that didn’t finish, which just shows how dominant we are,” said Pietkiewicz.

Amidst this season’s serves, volleys, and overheads, the team was able to do more than just win matches. They discovered the value of competitive companionship.

“For every year that I have been on the team we have just grown so much closer which has really made it a lot of fun. Now that we are closer, we can even play with each other better because we know each other so well,” said Gies.

Even some specific aspects of their game were directly affected by how much time the team members spent with each other.

“I think that the doubles teams were really cohesive this year and just really complemented each other well. The relationships between partners grew a lot stronger this year, and I think that in terms of championships, our team just really bonded this year, which will probably make an impact for years to come,” said senior, Sonia Karsan.

This year’s seniors are happy to have gone out on top but also hope that this recent trend of utter dominance extends beyond their time.

“I have always loved my Chamblee teams, and I still miss the past players that have graduated,” said Pietkiewicz. “I hope this leaves a precedent of really close, strong Chamblee tennis teams that all have a lot of love and support for each other. The best part of tennis is by far the other players, and I hope that this level of friendship lasts for future teams. And of course, I hope that the team keeps on winning.”

As for the boys, their valiant playoff push has earned them a spot against Grady in the state final, which has been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 7.

Led by seniors Carter Difonzo, Plato Constantinides, and Chase Starks, the boys hope to match the girls’ recent success with a title of their own.

“The goal for me this year is to win state and I think we can. We are better than we ever have been and we have Andrew Pietkiewicz, who is a baller, so there is potential,” said Difonzo. “We just want to win, that’s it. Nobody is really looking at the girls [team] and what they are doing, we mostly try to focus on our matches and our players.”

Andrew, whose sister is the girls’ captain, shares his sister’s undeniable love of tennis and is already making waves on the court as a ninth grader.

“I knew that this year might be hard because I’m a freshman playing against a lot of juniors and seniors, but I really just came in trying to win as many matches as I could. I think it has been really good playing a lot this year because I have been able to get used to the team environment,” said Pietkiewicz.

The boys will have to win just three out of the five combined singles and doubles matchups (three singles pairings and two doubles pairings) to take home first place.

“We have a pretty balanced lineup this year. Last year some of our lines were not as strong overall. We may have had one or two, but we could never really piece a third one together. This year I’d say we have a lot better chance. Most importantly, we are more confident now,” said Constantinides.