Tennis

Southside’s Noah Hefner, Sardis’ Caroline Johnson named Times’ high school tennis players of the year

Southside's Noah Hefner, Sardis' Caroline Johnson named Times' high school tennis players of the year

Sardis’ Caroline Johnson and Southside’s Noah Hefner were named The Gadsden Times’ tennis players of the year for the 2021 season.

Johnson, a sophomore, made a deep run at the state tournament in the 4A-5A No. 1 singles for the Lions after winning at sectionals. She drew a first-round bye, then won in straight sets in the second and quarterfinal rounds. Johnson then lost to Altamont’s Margarette Berdy, who went on to win the state championship.

Johnson went 10-1 in regular-season matches at the Lions’ No. 1 singles. She also went 11-0 in No. 1 doubles along with her partner McKenzie Williams, who was 11-0 at No. 2 singles.

“She really had to step up and play big,” said Sardis’ coach and Caroline’s mother, Amanda Johnson. “She’s playing the 1 so she’s facing the best from every team out there. And she did. She played well.”

Southside’s team consisted of Hefner, an eighth-grader and four freshmen who had never played before.

“Noah blossomed into a leader for those other players and set an example every single day of leadership and an exemplary work ethic,” former Southside coach Cole Frederick said. “He had a terrific senior season and I’m really proud of him.”

Hefner finished 5-5 with wins over Westbrook Christian, Cherokee County, Boaz, Fort Payne and Gardendale. He received a scholarship to Gadsden State to play tennis.

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