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Gainesville girls tennis falls to Northview in second round
Gainesville High’s Brinkley Frankum prepares to return a volley the undefeated Red Elephants’ Region 8-AAAAA state playoff match with Northside High at Longwood Park Thursday afternoon.

The Gainesville girls’ tennis team may not have ended the season like they had hoped, but it certainly didn’t go down without a fight.

After two sets, Brinkley Frankum at No. 1 singles, Georgia Summer at No. 2 singles, Katherine Wright at No. 3 singles, Morgan Mercer/Lauren Carter at No. 1 doubles, and Katherine Anderson/Sally Callahan at No. 2 doubles all split sets with Northview High, but the Lady Titans were able to come back and claim victories in all three singles matches to defeat Gainesville 3-1 on Thursday at Longwood Park in Gainesville.

“They played as hard as they could,” head coach Kellie Stevens said. “This (Northview) team is likely to win state, so it’s good to know that we competed with the best.”

Until Thursday, the Lady Red Elephants were undefeated, an accomplishment that no one will ever forget.

“We had a perfect season,” said lone senior Martha McKinnon, who did not compete due to illness. “It was an unbelievable feeling to do that because we took everyone by surprise.”

Although their hopes of a state championship are gone for this season, many of the Lady Red Elephants are not disappointed because they know they will be back just as strong next season and better prepared for the level of competition they will face.

“I’m not disappointed because we had such an amazing season,” said Summer, who is a sophomore. “We just need to get our confidence back up and go into every match like we know we’re going to win.”

As the only senior on the team, McKinnon is sad that she won’t get to play with the group of girls she considers her “sisters,” but she said she is extremely proud of how far the team has come in a short time.

“It’s been so impressive to watch the transition from my freshman year to my senior year,” she said. “The tennis team used to not even be recognized at Gainesville, and now we’re a force to be reckoned with.”

Stevens agrees that the team has evolved significantly over the years, and she believes that Gainesville’s girls program will continue to make great strides with the core of players they have now.

“We’re so strong from No. 1 singles to No. 2 doubles,” she said. “Without question we know that we’re going to be strong next year.”

The team shares such a strong bond in addition to their strength on the court that Summer and McKinnon consider their time with their teammates almost as good as winning matches.

“It’s going to be so much fun playing with them next year,” Summer said.

McKinnon is so close with the rest of the Lady Red Elephants that she absolutely plans on returning to watch them play next season.

“I can’t wait to see how both teams play and how they handle Flowery Branch since that rivalry has been renewed,” McKinnon said.