The Concord girls' tennis team has had quite a run over the last four years.
Led by a core group of five seniors, the Spiders have won four straight South Piedmont Conference championships with a four-year overall record of 63-4 heading into Tuesday's match with in the first round of the 3A state dual team playoffs.
At the front of Concord's "Dream Team" this year - and for much of her four seasons - is Kathryn Brown, the team's No. 1 singles player. A three-time all-conference player and regional qualifier, Brown will soon cap one of the most decorated high school tennis careers in Cabarrus County history.
"It's definitely been very special," said Brown. "I can't put a price on it. This year wasn't the toughest year but it's the most special because it's our last year. Everyone has pulled their weight for us to be successful."
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Brown started playing United States Tennis Association tournaments shortly after she first picked up a racquet in the sixth grade. She won her first tournament, in Greensboro, as a seventh grader.
Since then, she has established herself in the state rankings' top 50 in her age group. Despite developing some tendonitis in her right hand, her forehand side, Brown continued to play this summer, but not as much as usual, because of her commitment to her high school team.
Brown and fellow seniors Sara Holbrooks, Madison Kay and Katherine Barnett all came into the program together as freshman in 2007. Another senior, Maggie Teague, started playing with the Spiders in 2008.
The strong work ethic and grit Brown became known for was evident from her freshman year on, said coach Jill Gardiner.
Though Brown started that season as the fifth seed, she continued to challenge teammates until she settled into the third spot.
Brown finished with a singles record of 17-1. She and doubles partner Fran Bullard, then a sophomore, formed a solid tandem. They qualified for regionals and reached the second round of the tournament.
The next season, Brown and Holbrooks found themselves in a newly developed friendly rivalry. Their sophomore year started a succession of years in which they alternated between the top two flights on their team.
In 2008, top seeded Brown defeated second seeded Holbrooks in the finals of the SPC tournament. Brown advanced to the second round of regionals, finishing with an 18-3 record.
Holbrooks overtook Brown as Concord's top player in 2009 and Brown had little problem with most opponents in the second flight. She finished with a 15-1 record and with Bullard as her doubles partner was back in the regional tournament.
Back at No. 1 this year, Brown has a record and is planning on competing as a singles player in this weekend's 3A Midwest Tournament at Waddell High.
Gardiner attributes Brown's success to her style of play - an aggressive approach in which she doesn't simply sit back like many tennis player at her level.
"Kathryn will move you, drop you, she'll move herself, come in to the net," said Gardiner. "She is very versatile for a high school tennis player."
Concord's success has paralleled Brown's. In four years, the Spiders won three league titles outright and shared one with Marvin Ridge in 2008.
In the state dual team playoffs, the Spiders have not much success. In 2007 and 2009, Concord was eliminated by Charlotte Catholic, which eventually won state championships each year. The Spiders were knocked out by Southwest Guilford in 2008.
Brown is equally impressive in the classroom. The student council president, Brown is ranked seventh in her graduating class and currently has a 4.7 GPA.
Queens University is among the schools that have shown an interest in her playing tennis collegiately.