Sean Gilbert spoke for his Buford High girls tennis program when he said last season’s road, second-round loss to South Effingham in the Class 5A tennis tournament was a tough pill to swallow.
On Monday, the No. 2-seeded Lady Wolves got their revenge, defeating the Lady Mustangs 3-1 in Guyton to advance to their third state semifinal in the last four seasons.
“I am just immensely proud of them,” Gilbert said. “(Last season’s loss) helped prepare us for this year. We knew what the trip was going to be like, we prepared for it and our girls responded.”
With the win, the Lady Wolves next face the winner of defending Class 5A champion Chamblee and No. 1 Bainbridge. The time and date of the semifinal match is to be determined.
Gilbert said it felt like deja vu as the deciding moment of Monday’s match — just like last season — came down to the No. 1 doubles team of Kenzie Harms and Sydney Grothe, who after winning a contested first-set tiebreak (7-4) against South Effingham’s McKenzie Dennison/Grace Brantley, managed to pull away for a 6-1 win in the second set to clinch the victory for the Lady Wolves.
It came after freshman Alex Mann recorded a 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 1 singles for Buford’s first point, and the Lady Wolves’ No. 2 tandem of Kennedy Deloach/Ainsley Keller claimed the second point in straight-set fashion (6-4, 6-2).
“They took care of business pretty efficiently,” Gilbert said of his No. 2 pair. “That was kind of a later-season change, and they’ve really come together. The last two weeks they’ve won and been a real big part of what we’re doing.”