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High school tennis: Flowery Branch girls advance to state quarterfinals with 4-0 sweep of North Springs
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Olivia Correa of Flowery Branch hits the ball during a singles match on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in the second-round playoff match in the state tournament against North Springs High School in Flowery Branch. - photo by David Barnes

The Flowery Branch girls tennis team continues to power through this year’s state tournament.

Even as rain pushed a second-round match against North Springs back to Wednesday afternoon, Lady Falcons coach Ginger Jackson watched as her starting seven — after a week-long layover — barely missed a beat as they swept No. 2 seed North Springs, 4-0, at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex in Flowery Branch.

“It’s hard to take a week off and then have rain — it is,” Jackson said. “We looked good. I’m pleased, and I’m happy for our showing. It was good to get back on the courts.” 

With the win, Flowery Branch hosts fellow No. 1 seed Union Grove at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the state quarterfinals, as a result of winning a statewide coin flip for spring playoff sports.

Flowery Branch appears to be taking full advantage of one of the more favorable playoff draws this program has seen in recent memory as it booked back-to-back third-round appearances (third overall). Carrollton eliminated Flowery Branch with a 3-0 defeat in last year’s elite 8 match. And in 2012, the Lady Falcons’ first stint in the quarterfinals proved unsuccessful against eventual Class 4A champion Johns Creek.

“We’ve always kind of got stopped by state champions (in the past),” said an always cautiously optimistic Jackson. “I’m happy and I’m excited. I think we’ve got potential to do well here.”

The Lady Falcons seemed content with their performance as well. All three singles lines for Flowery Branch clinched the playoff victory in under an hour, beginning with Olivia Nance’s straight-set — 6-0, 6-0 — win over North Springs’ Bria Wilson in the No. 3 slot. Senior and No. 2 singles unbeaten Olivia Correa overcame a slow start to take the first set 6-3 against Talia Spitzler, then ran away for 6-0 in the second. 

Lady Falcons’ Annabelle Thomas and Robyn Salzberg of North Springs traded punches from the forehand side in the early going of a No. 1 singles match. However, the all-court game of Thomas proved more steady as the junior staple for Flowery Branch unloaded a backhand winner down the line for 2-1 in the opening set, good enough to flip the momentum on her side for good. Thomas eventually pulled away for a 6-1, 6-0 win to seal the victory for Flowery Branch.

It came minutes before Jackson’s freshmen No. 2 tandem of Alicia and Kendalle Quast won in straight sets (6-2, 6-0). Brenna Martin/Alyssa McSpadden were also up a set (6-2) in their No. 1 doubles match on an adjacent court.

Jackson appeared eager to get things rolling well before the GHSA mandated deadline (May 2), though, may have to heed Mother Nature as more rain looms in the forecast. 

It still won’t dictate the weekly approach of this longtime coach for Flowery Branch.

“We’ll fix some things and work on some things. We just try to get better every match,” Jackson said.

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