Unfinished business for Brookwood girls duo

As singles players, Brookwood tennis stars Courtney McLane and Dana Guentert should be used to doing things on their own.

Yet, it's hard to talk about one of the Bronco seniors without mentioning the other.

After all, they have both been starters since they first set foot on the court at Brookwood, and share plenty of other things in common.

"We have the same (USTA) coach (in Ashley Hobson)," Guentert said. "Throughout school, we've had a lot of classes together. And through practicing and hitting to each other, we've really helped each other out."

McLane and Guentert share something else in common, something that is also present in the rest of their Brookwood teammates - a sense of unfinished business.

About the only thing the Broncos haven't yet accomplished is a Class AAAAA state championship.

Twice they've come close, falling to powerhouse Walton - winners of four straight state titles and six of the last seven - in the finals the last two seasons.

With Walton having lost several starters from last year, including phenom Cameron Ellis, and Brookwood returning its entire starting lineup - including McLane, Guentert and the No. 1 doubles team of Jordan Johnston and Lindsey Peyton - the opportunity appears to be there for the Broncos to topple the Raiders.

Of course, a lot still has to happen if McLane, Guentert and the Broncos are to get a chance to end Walton's domination and claim Brookwood's first state championship since 2000 - namely, claiming one of the state tournament berths from Region 8-AAAAA.

Still, McLane admits that while there isn't much luxury in looking too far ahead, it's hard not to imagine being at the Clayton County International Park to take one last shot at a state title.

"We try to take it one match at a time," McLane said. "But in the back of our minds, we think about it. Every match is working towards that goal - getting a day better so we can meet that challenge."

Both McLane and Guentert know that if the Broncos are to meet that challenge, they will have to step to the forefront.

While Brookwood has plenty of talent throughout its lineup, McLane and Guentert's respective roles in helping set the tone at No. 1 and 2 singles are extremely important.

And that's just the way McLane (10-0 last season), who has never lost a high school match and is currently ranked as Georgia's top player in the Girls 18s division by the USTA, likes it.

"I kind of like being in a position where the team can depend on you for your point," said McLane, last year's Daily Post Girls Player of the Year. "And I think Dana feels the same way. I kind of like that challenge. It's good practice because you've got to step up your game that much more."

And while both seniors are out on the proverbial island as singles players, they still feel that team chemistry that exists throughout the Broncos, but especially among themselves.

"It's not about winning every (individual) match and being undefeated," McLane said. "It's about the team winning. But we definitely encourage each other in practice and look to each other during changeovers."

That chemistry is something Guentert admits she will miss when the two finally part ways to head to their respective college programs in the fall - Guentert to Michigan State and McLane to Alabama.

"It's going to be a hard separation," said Guentert, who was 13-1 and a first-team All-County selection last season as a junior. "We're very close. So, we just have to soak up each other's (influence) while we still can."