With Gainesville already eliminated in the first round of the state tournament, No. 2 singles sophomore Dylan Pineda kept battling against Centennial. It was a promising sign for Red Elephants coach C.J. Weaver looking toward the future with just one player graduating from a program that lost 4-1 in the opening round at Longwood Park in Gainesville.
Pineda, who Weaver called the ‘human backboard,’ kept up the pressure for a straight-set victory after the other four lines were completed with decisive wins by the visiting Knights.
“Dylan does such a good job out there, I rarely need to talk to him during his match,” Weaver said. “He’s an extremely focused player.”
Gainesville’s sophomore at No. 2 singles rallied from 5-4 down in the opening set to take it 7-5, then with the other two singles matches already completed, changed gears to win the final set 6-2.
The other two singles matches were won 6-0, 6-0, led by the swift play by Centennial’s No. 1 player Robby Merrill who showcased a dominant return game throughout.
Despite the early exit from the postseason, Weaver said it was a strong 2018 campaign for Gainesville, which earned its first region championship since 2015. The future is strong for the program, according to Weaver, given the only departure of senior Max Wuest at No. 1 doubles.
“I expect we will have three freshmen step up and play right away next year,” Weaver said. “One of them will probably be at No. 1 or No. 2 singles.”
With the win, Centennial moves on to face Creekview, which defeated South Paulding 3-0, next week in Douglasville.