Etowah

The Etowah girls tennis team, led by seven seniors — Isabella Kruse, Natalie Nejad, Chloe Mnich, Katie Bonsall, Taylor Bartos, Sophie Mnich and Kyleigh Head — won the Region 5AAAAAAA championship this spring, and the group of seniors have left an indelible mark on the program.

Seven seniors on the Etowah girls varsity tennis team achieved success not only on the tennis courts, but also in the classroom.

Over the last four years, they have represented the school with integrity and sportsmanship both on and off the court, and although this is the end of one chapter, they are all ready to start a new one.

“We’ve always had each others’ backs and we are the best of friends, and it’s been great getting to be able to play tennis with (them) for like 10-plus years,” doubles player Taylor Bartos said. “I think it’s kind of bittersweet having it come to the end of our senior year and all of us graduating and going to different schools.”

Etowah coach Virginia Diederich coached the girls since they were in eighth grade and noticed first-hand how flexible they were this year.

“They are all very interchangeable players, and they all support each other,” Diederich said of the senior group of Bartos, Isabella Kruse, Sophie Mnich, Natalie Nejad, Chloe Mnich, Katie Bonsall and Kyleigh Head. “We’ve had injuries, we’ve had illnesses and, whenever any of that happens, all of them are ready to just jump in and do whatever is best for the team, no matter what position they’re with, no matter what partner they’re with.”

Etowah won the Region 5AAAAAAA championship in April, its first region title in five years. The Lady Eagles also made it to the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAAAA state tournament before losing to the eventual champion Walton.

All seven seniors were scholar athletes every single year in high school. Proper etiquette in class, as well as planning ahead, was the key to their success.

“Everybody on our team has always been really good at studying and paying attention in class,” said Kruse, who played both singles and doubles. “I’m pretty sure all of us have agendas of some sort on our calendars that we use to keep track of our stuff and our sports.”

Because of their academic success, all of them have earned scholarship money, either inside or outside of Georgia, and all of them will be pursuing different majors, including medicine, law, journalism and business.

Kruse will continue to play tennis competitively at Wheaton College near Boston, while getting a nearly full-ride scholarship to study veterinary science.

“That’s going to be really fun for me to keep that team bonding kind of going with the new team,” Kruse said. “I’m just hopefully going to make a lot of friends and enjoy my sports.”

Two of the seniors, Bartos and Sophie Mnich, are staying local and will be attending Kennesaw State.

As the seniors all prepare for college, they got one last piece of advice from their coach.

“Embrace any possibilities that come up. They’re going to have a lot of different paths in front of them,” Diederich said. “I think that they’re just at a point in their life where they’re so talented and so competent that they need to be on the lookout for new opportunities.”

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