It isn't that Columbus boys tennis coach Betsy Zachry knew her team would be playing for the state championship. It's just that she knows they deserved to be there.
When the Blue Devils lace it up to face Madison County on Saturday at the Clayton County International Park, it will be a confident bunch that has grown immensely over the course of the past four years, Zachry said.
"It's something we've kind of had in our sights since the seniors were freshmen," she said. "We've been close the last few years."
Meanwhile, the Marion County boys will also play for a state title in the public Class A division. The team defeated Baconton Charter in the semifinals behind three solid performances from the three singles players, Gray Wells, Daniel Peacock and Bense Medders.
Matches begin for the Eagles at 9 a.m. also at the Clayton County International Park in Jonesboro.
The road to the Class AAAA finals hasn't been easy for Columbus. Not only did it have a tough region slate, but it had to get past teams like Marist and Spalding along the way.
"We've worked really, really hard to get to this point," Zachry said. "Just being here is an honor. We're just going to play our best and see what happens."
Against Madison County, the Blue Devils will face a team that won its region and defeated Carrollton, a team that beat Columbus in the Region 5-AAAA tournament.
"We know they're a very, very strong team," Zachry said. "They're going to be strong from top to bottom, which is what you expect in the finals. Beyond that, we don't know a whole lot about them. We just know it's going to be tough. It won't be a quick match."
She did say that she thought the Blue Devils' had played a tougher schedule this season and hoped that would make a difference on the court.
"Their record is better -- 22-3 to our 19-6 -- but hopefully our tough schedule will pay off," she said.
According to Zachry, the only state championship banner hanging in the Columbus gym is from 1953 -- the Georgia High School Association's records go back to only 1978. She said her team is ready to add to that.
"We're ready. The boys had their last practice (Friday)," she said. "They're very loose. They didn't push themselves. Everybody just had a good time. We're really excited and ready to go.
"Obviously, you never know what will happen when emotions and nerves set in, but we feel like we've put enough time and effort in to be a confident bunch. We'll see what happens.
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter@leprepsports.