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Lackey sisters fuel Norcross tennis team

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Sisters Amber Lackey, 14, Maria Lackey, 18, center, and Stacy Lackey, 16, right, all play on the Norcross varsity girls tennis team. All three are starters who have helped the Blue Devils to a strong start this season.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Sisters Amber Lackey, 14, Maria Lackey, 18, center, and Stacy Lackey, 16, right, all play on the Norcross varsity girls tennis team. All three are starters who have helped the Blue Devils to a strong start this season.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Sisters Amber Lackey, 14, Maria Lackey, 18, center, and Stacy Lackey, 16, right, all play on the Norcross varsity girls tennis team. All three are starters who have helped the Blue Devils to a strong start this season.

Finding a court is really the only thing that keeps the Lackey sisters from playing tennis.

Because they're never lacking partners.

The three oldest sisters make up a big part of Norcross' successful team, and their younger sister is an eighth-grader.

If they aren't playing or practicing for the Blue Devils, or at a tournament, finding the four of them isn't too hard. Check the Hudlow Tennis Center at Best Friend Park.

"We switch up who plays with who so we get more variety," junior Stacy Lackey said.

They do take Sundays off, but all of the girls jumped head-first into tennis when their aunt suggested they start playing five years ago.

"They're court rats," Norcross head coach Hope Black said. "They're always on a court somewhere if you're looking for them.

"They're just hard-working, pleasant young ladies. They all play very well."

The Lackeys' aunt was working at a tennis center and talked to one of the coaches there about her nieces.

Only Maria, the oldest, had played any sports before that. Now a senior, Maria dropped soccer and cheerleading when they all providentially took up tennis.

It came naturally to her, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a lot of work.

"I had to be patient," Maria said. "It takes time to get all the skills down."

Her endurance and footwork took the most time to develop, but now Maria is part of a 12-2 No. 1 doubles pair with Rachel Luttrell and going to play in college next year.

"Maria's nickname is firecracker," Black said. "On the court, she'll light up when she gets fired up about something."

Stacy and Amber play singles, but Black can easily substitute them in at doubles if necessary.

"They can play anywhere without a problem," Black said. "They pretty much win most of the time. I count on them."

Stacy plays at No. 1 singles so she has a couple of more losses than her sisters this season. She always gets each team's best.

"It's my first year playing there, but I actually think I'm doing pretty well," Stacy said. "I could be doing better. Some matches I lose because I'm not as consistent as I should be or I'm kind of off. So my game doesn't go as well as I think it should."

Stacy played No. 1 doubles as a freshman when Norcross made its state run.

"Stacy's kind of our silent leader," Black said. "She doesn't have to say a lot, but when she looks at you, you know she's listening. She's intense."

Stacy was excited to start playing tennis.

"Because that was my first sport," she said. "When I was first starting, I would go out and practice on my own or just hit on the wall out by the courts. Some coaches would come tell me what I'm doing wrong or they would give me lessons."

Now she practices most often with her sisters.

"We help each other out, give each other tips," Stacy said.

Stacy said she and Amber do the best playing together. Amber said Stacy is the best player in the family.

Fortunately, they all get along well.

"They're awesome," Maria said of her sisters.

Amber, a freshman, plays No. 2 singles and has rarely lost this season.

"I think I've lost once," she said.

Stacy, from a few feet away, corrects her. Nicely though. It's actually two losses. Both went to three sets.

"Amber is the most outgoing and she's probably going to blossom over the next three years with leadership, her personality and intensity," Black said. "They're all fun. They've got a sense of humor. They come across a little quiet and mild. But you get to know them, their personalities, there's a passion there."