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Brookwood's super sophomores

SNELLVILLE - The Fantastic 4 are more than just a group of superheroes.

For the Brookwood girls tennis team, they are also a group of four super-sophomores that have propelled the Broncos to a No. 3 ranking in the state.

The group includes Daily Post Super Six members Dana Guentert and Courtney McLane as well as Stephanie Hedlund and Lindsey Peyton, and have really attached themselves to the heroic moniker.

"Last year we started calling ourselves the fantastic freshmen four with all of the alliteration, even before the movie came out," Guentert said. "I didn't even know the movie was coming out, I'm just a comic book fan."

"So we got all excited when the movie came out an we just all had to see it together," McLane said.

After the quartet saw the movie, they decided to each pick a nickname based on the characters in the Marvel comic book.

"That was really the first time that we all hung out," Hedlund said. "And we really loved the movie so we were like, lets each pick a person."

Guentert became 'The Thing,' McLane took 'Mr. Fantastic,' Hedlund is 'The Invisible Woman,' and Peyton is 'The Human Torch.'

"Dana's the big muscular one," Peyton said of how Guentert became 'The Thing,'"and then the rest of them are all just pretty much randomly picked."

Nicknames or not, the girls' have grown into their roles on the team in their second year together after being the only four freshmen on the varsity team last year.

"We've got really great chemistry, since we've played together for so long and known one another for so long," McLane said. "We're a really tight group."

"We have a support system between the four of us," Hedlund said.

That support system extends to their lives off the court as well, as many of them have classes together and generally spend lots of time together.

"We've hung out a lot outside of matches, and then we always hang out and cheer for one another during matches too," Peyton said.

"We've gotten a lot closer basically because of tennis," Hedlund added.

"Tennis is so individual, it's such a lonely sport," head coach Anita McLane siad. "So to have a team where you say we're going to work together and be supportive of one another, that's a really great feeling. They're easy to coach because they're all friends, as well as good students and just nice girls."

Guentert and McLane switch up at Nos. 1 and 2 singles for the Broncos, while Hedlund has been a fixture at the No. 3 spot and Peyton teams with senior Paige Ivey to form the No. 1 doubles team.

The Broncos' Fantastic 4 has been very successful this season, leading the Broncos to a 12-1 record overall, and only losing one individual match among them.

Guentert stands at 7-0, McLane at 6-0, Hedulnd at 11-1 and Peyton and her doubles partner at 12-0 on the season.

Guentert and McLane have been playing tennis the longest of the four, and currently train together with Ashley Hobson at Eastside Athletic Club, however, the biggest difference between this year and last may be the improvements from Hedlund and Peyton.

"Dana and Courtney have been playing year-round tennis for a long time at a high level, but last year Lindsey and Stephanie made a real committment to playing year-round tennis," Coach McLane said. "They've been drilling and playing in some off sesaon tournaments.

"They saw what it took when we played Walton last year and stepped up and said we're willing to commit to you."

That sort of improvement from year to year is something that the girls expect to see from one another as they progress through high school together.

"It was really cool since there were four freshmen on the varsity team last year and we'll get better as a team becaus the four of us will have been on it the whole time," Hedlund said.

"It's a really fun group to play with, and another good thing is that we can help one another along so that we're getting progressively better all four years together," Guentert said.

The Broncos' quarterfinal loss to Walton has been what has spurred them to improve this year, as well as their only loss of the season to region rival Grayson.

"We want to win state, but we're going to have a tough match with Walton to do it and some tough matches to get to that point," Hedlund said.

"We want to win region first," McLane said. "(Grayson) beat us earlier in the season so we want to get them back and then state."

Those high expectations are not out of the realm of possiblity for the talented squad in spite of their youthfullness.

"We all have high expectations and we all work really hard to fulfill them," Guentert said.

The Broncos will start their final push towards first part of their goal on Monday with the first matches of the two-day Region 8-AAAAA team tournament.