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Big Red rolls to tennis title
Gainesville defeated Creekview in boys title match
Gainesville High’s double team Robbie Bilbrough, left, and Drew Denning congratulate each other Friday after a good play against Creekview during the region 7-AAA tennis tournament finals at Alberta Banks Park. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

After two hours, two sets and a tie-breaker, Ryan Joiner made the Gainesville High boys tennis team a champion and No. 1 seed to state.

The Red Elephants’ No. 1 singles representative edged Creekview’s Cameron Murphy to break a 2-2 tie with the Grizzlies and earn the Red Elephants a Region 7-AAA title Friday at Alberta Banks Park in Flowery Branch.

Joiner, a sophomore, won the first set 7-5, then finished a back-and-forth second set ahead 7-6 before defeating Murphy 8-6 in the tie breaker.

The deciding point came when Murphy failed to clear the net on his last two serves, giving the match point to Joiner by double fault.

"It was insane, just intense," Joiner said. "When I saw that I was the only one left on the court, I knew that everything was up to me."

Joiner was the lone winner in singles for the Red Elephants. Creekview’s Craig Borne and Peyton Hutto won at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, defeating Doug McDuff and Connor McMorrow.

Despite the two losses in singles, Gainesville was able to keep the score even with its continued success in doubles. The Red Elephants’ lineup of Louis Hokayem/Corey McDonald and Drew Denning/Robbie Bilbrough kept their season-long unbeaten streak in region play alive, winning in straight sets over Cory Natoli/Dylan Egeland and Jordan Freeman/Karl Schaffer.

With all other matches completed, Joiner’s win at the end of the day was the decision-maker.

"You could not end any season better than this," Gainesville coach James Lingerfelter said. "Hard work and dedication will always lead to success in anything."

Gainesville opened the day with a 3-1 win against West Hall in the semifinals. The Spartans played in the third place game, where they lost to West Forsyth 3-2. They will represent the region as the fourth seed in the state playoffs next week.

West Hall’s wins came at No. 2 singles, where Jimmy Kincaid defeated West Forsyth’s Jose Quicero 6-3, 6-4, and at No. 1 doubles, where Kyle Weatherly and Connor McFall won over the Ian Nadasdy and Ben Holloway 6-4, 6-3.

The Wolverines’ winners were Austin Todd at No. 1 singles, Christian Stanko at No. 2 singles and Andrew Razo and Jesse Magnussen at No. 2 doubles.

In girls action, the West Forsyth girls secured its second straight region title with a 3-1 win against Creekview in the finals.

Macy Day recorded a win in straight sets for the Wolverines. West Forsyth’s Olivia Reed/Carolina Wallner and Sydney Niemi/Savannah Miller swept doubles, securing a repeat region championship.

"The girls have worked really hard, they wanted to win," Lady Wolverines coach James Hallewell said. "We had a goal of winning again, and we did that."

Emily Waters won at No. 1 singles for Creekview, defeating Susan Cropper 6-1, 6-1.

The Flowery Branch girls secured a the No. 3 seed in next week’s state playoffs by defeating Johnson 3-2 in the third-place match.

With the match tied at two wins apiece, the Lady Falcons’ doubles team of Morgan Reed and Lindsey Shaw defeated Johnson’s Harlee Robson and Claire Crain 6-4, 7-6 (9-7) to secure the team win.

Jennica Ramey and Megan Grewett also recorded wins for Flowery Branch at No. 1 and No. 2 singles.

"They’re very excited," Lady Falcons coach Ginger Jackson said. "They played very hard today. They played with heart."

The Lady Knights’ Katie Clark took No. 3 singles in a 6-2, 6-2 win over Flowery Branch’s Morgan Ruiz.

Laura Gazaway and Annabeth Peace also won for Johnson, taking No. 2 doubles after a 6-2, 7-6 (11-9) tiebreaker win against the Lady Falcons’ Nicki Price and Elizabeth Mallory.

Region 7-AAA’s playoff-bound teams open the first round Friday against Region 8-AAA.

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