Seniors Isabel Miller and Brinley Bartlett of Oconee County girls tennis lead the team in the 3A state championship on May 11, 2024. (Photo/Karen Oglesby)

Brinley Bartlett and Isabel Miller led a first-round sweep of Cedar Grove in the state tournament; it pushed the Oconee County girls’ tennis team closer to a title.

But, that wasn’t the only important thing about it.

The win was not important just because Miller remained undefeated in No.1 doubles. The win was not important just because Bartlett earned a “golden match” at No.1 singles.

The win was important because they earned another day with coach Mark Oglesby — and another chance at a state title.

Now, Oconee County is heading to the class 3A state championship, playing Wesleyan on Saturday at Berry College’s Rome Tennis Center. Bartlett, Miller and their coach have been chasing a state title through eight sports seasons, in volleyball and tennis. 

They have competed in state tournaments three times in those seasons, reaching tennis finals in 2022 and the volleyball final last fall. There is mounting pressure to achieve, but they believe in themselves and in one another.

“They want it, and they want it badly,” said Oglesby. “They never ever, ever, ever quit.”

For four years, Bartlett and Miller both have played volleyball in the fall and tennis in the spring. Oglesby, the head volleyball coach and assistant tennis coach, has been with them through it all. 

You don’t want your season to end,” Bartlett said.

Oglesby has coached five high school sports over the last 30 years. 

His first season as Oconee County’s head volleyball coach was the girls’ freshman year. 

“Then we came into tennis season and he ended up coaching tennis too,” Miller said. “So I was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool. I’ll have him for both.’”

Oglesby knew about the girls’ club volleyball experience even before he coached them. He didn’t know he might see them on another court in the spring. 

“Tennis was a pleasant surprise,” he said.

Oglesby was able to assess their volleyball strengths and develop them in various positions. Bartlett spent her freshman season in the middle position, where she was undersized at 5-foot-8, and transitioned to the outside for the remainder of her time as a Warrior. She was named to the All-State team in 2022 and 2024. She was the class 3A All-State player of the year as a junior. 

Though Miller was originally going to be a swing player between JV and varsity, her defensive skill was promising enough to place her firmly on varsity. She was an all-state honorable mention her sophomore year.

Bartlett has also been all-region all four years in tennis. 

“I never would have thought my freshman year that we would have done what we’ve done in both sports,” Miller said.

Their talent inspired Oglesby to be the girls’ biggest motivator.

“I don’t want to be the reason that they don’t reach their potential,” he said.

He organized more offseason training, attended more clinics, watched more college practices and participated in more team camps, among other things. 

Their desire and their hard work has motivated me to want to work even harder,” he said.

Miller will play volleyball at Emmanuel College in the fall. Bartlett will be studying at Kennesaw State University. She intends to play club volleyball or tennis.

“I have to realize that I have been here before, so like, it’s nothing new,” Miller said. “It is the same game. It’s the same sport. It is going to become a higher level of the sport, but it’s still the same sport.”

Oglesby always emphasized the importance of maintaining a positive mindset, Bartlett said, and not working against herself.

Miller remembers Oglesby telling her to be 1% better every day. 

“I think that just really pushes me to see myself grow,” Miller said. “At least try to work on one thing, and eventually it’ll help me grow overall.”

For now, the one thing to work on is the one thing they haven’t done together — win a state title. They have one more chance this Saturday.

Zoe Streeter is a sophomore journalism and sports media student at the University of Georgia.

 

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