The Walton High School Girls secured their third straight Georgia Class 6A State Championship, and won their thirteenth title in the last fifteen years. The Lady Raiders were in imperious form and dispatched their opponents with ease, the Raiders went unbeaten in state tournament play outscoring opponents 15-0, including the 3-0 victory in the state finals against Kennesaw Mountain.
With talent and experience in abundance, Walton’s march to victory always seemed a foregone conclusion. Five of team’s seven starters are seniors who have seen and done it all before. Suzanne Zenoni, Bella Kruse, Jessica Cramer and Johanna Keeline will compete at the collegiate level next season. Even so, the girls felt an added pressure to succeed when Walton’s boys reached the Class 6A State Championship final. With a rare boy/girl double championship on the line, for the first time since 2002, the Lady Raiders couldn't afford any slip-ups.
“We’re so excited,” said Walton girls coach Christy Lewis, who returned to coaching for the first time since going on maternity leave. “(The boys) had an awesome match in the semifinals. These girls have been playing together for four years and they’re looking to go out on top.”
The final day arrived, and the girls duly delivered. Johanna Keeline, a Concordia signee, brought the first point on board with a 6-0, 6-0 victory at No.3 singles, to wrap up an impressive, undefeated career at Walton. Jessica Cramer, a UC-San Diego signee, and Sophia Guldberg stormed through their No.2 doubles final with an identical 6-0, 6-0 scoreline. Senior Bella Kruse, who signed with Richmond, clinched the state title for the Raiders with her 6-2, 6-0 win over Samantha Armas at No.2 singles. Kuse produced a consistent performance from the baseline, moving her opponent, before hitting winners and forcing the errors.
Walton’s jewel, No.1 singles player Suzanne Zenoni was in complete command against Nicole Croxton 6-2 4-1 when her match was pulled off court, while twin sisters Grace and Emily Gaskins managed to take just a set (6-4) off Chika Okonkow and Sophia Suri at No.1 doubles, before the match was abandoned.
She may have wanted to spend a bit more time on court, but Suzanne Zenoni was still over the moon once the event has ended. It has been a splendid year so far for the Elon signee. Zenoni was the 2015 DecoTurf High School Tennis Team Championships Girls A Division Most Valuable Player, while her team, Walton, was crowned the 2015 DecoTurf High School Tennis Team Championships Girls A Division Champion.
“It means a lot to our seniors to have won three straight,” a delighted Zenoni said to Marrieta Daily Journal. “It’s great to leave with a win.”
The senior showed remarkable maturity and took nothing for granted. “We’ve been here a lot and experienced this. Not many get to leave with one championship, so winning three is amazing.”
Walton coach Christy Lewis also paid tribute to her players. “The seniors were ready to dominate, so they can go out on a high note and end their careers well.”
Walton Girls’ achievement became more significant when Walton Boys joined the celebration party. The Raiders survived a nail-biting final against Northview to take home the first title since 2002. The unlikely double marks the pinnacle of Georgia Class 6A Girls State Champion who will now let its talented core of players move to college to conquer new heights.