Throughout the tennis season, one of Mark Barrow’s trademarks for Stratford was his strength of play being strong all the way to the end of the match.
And as was the case all year, Barrow was again steady on the season’s biggest stage, winning a pair of 7-5 games in the championship match to lead the Eagles to the GHSA Class A Private School state title for the second time in three years.
Barrow posted a 19-0 record as Stratford’s No. 1 singles player. In the matches that Barrow competed in, he lost just four games all year with the first regular-season defeat coming 12 matches into the season.
Barrow is The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Boys Tennis Player of the Year. In four seasons, he is 49-3 in singles competition to go with being 22-1 in doubles play.
“One of Mark’s greatest assets on the court is that he fights for every point,” Stratford head coach Jaime Kaplan said. “He really wears down a lot of players because you have to work so hard to win a point off of him.”
The wearing down of the opponents took place in a big way in the state title match against Mt. Paran. On the way there, Barrow overpowered his earlier postseason opponents, taking 6-0 and 6-0 wins in the first round and a pair of 6-1 wins in the quarterfinals.
“We knew it was going to be tough. We had played that team in the semifinals the year we won and knew it was going to be tough,” Barrow said. “We knew it would come down to the (wire).”
He trailed 5-4 and 5-3 in each game of the match, but the time needed to rally back extended the time on the court, playing right into Barrow’s hands.
“The kid he played against was more of a power hitter and (Barrow) as able to wear him down,” Kaplan said.
It all culminated in the second GHSA state championship in three years for the Eagles. For Barrow, who was a freshman on the previous state title squad, the mantle of expectations is not forgotten going into each season. He has also been part of a state championship doubles title during Stratford’s time in the GISA.
“A lot of people expect us to do well,” Barrow said. “Last year, we kind of let them down a little bit, so this year was kind of our opportunity to get back. This season, we had more of a team camaraderie than we had last year. It was a really tight-knit group.”
Barrow is left-handed. And in tennis, that can be advantage to opponents who have both played against him and those who are lining up across the court from him for the first time.
“Being left-handed is an advantage with a serve, in the first place. What I have noticed in the past year is how much more power his serve has,” Kaplan said. “As a lefty, you can put more spin on it when you serve, but he has added power to his serve, so it’s kind of like a pitcher with a great fastball and change-up and you don’t know what’s coming. He has really used it to his advantage.”
Previous All-Middle Georgia selections this spring
All-Middle Georgia Boys Tennis Team
Player of the Year: Mark Barrow, Stratford
Mark Barrow, Stratford, Jr.
The returning first-teamer went 19-0 at No. 1 singles and had a huge win to cinch the team state title. He lost only 18 games in postseason in 2017, and is 49-3 in career singles.
Samuel Barrow, Stratford, Fr.
He went 19-0 overall, 18-0 at No. 2 singles, in his varsity debut, losing only 14 games in regular season.
Daniel Cohen, Stratford, Fr.
Another Stratford rookie, Cohen was 16-0 overall, 15-0 at No. 3 singles, and lost eight games in six postseason matches.
Christian Tinkey, FPD, Soph.
The returning first-teamer went 16-4 overall for the Vikings, 13-4 at No. 1 singles.
John Wharton, Northside, Sr.
The returning first-teamer completed an undefeated varsity career (49-0 at No. 1 singles) by going 13-0 at No. 1 singles; 49-0 in career at No. 1 singles, earning Region 1-6A boys Player of the Year honors.
Parker White, FPD, Jr.
White went 16-4 overall, 13-4 at No. 2 singles, 3-0 at No. 1, and beat the Class 2A champion three times at No. 2.
All-Middle Georgia schedule
A look at the schedule for All-Middle Georgia teams to be released with the days the results will be posted on Macon.com and in The Telegraph:
June 17/18: Scholar-Athlete of the Year
June 18/19: Girls track
June 19/20: Boys track
June 20/21: Girls soccer
June 21/22: Boys soccer
June 22/23: Baseball
June 23/24: Girls Athlete of the Year
June 24/25: Boys Athlete of the Year