After winning the Region 8-AAAAA championship last week, the Gainesville Lady Red Elephants tennis team kept the momentum going, defeating the North Paulding Lady Wolfpack 5-0 in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs on Tuesday afternoon at Longwood Park in Gainesville.
All five matches were straight-set wins for the Lady Red Elephants, who play host to the winner of the Northview/Lakeside-Dekalb match in the second round. Time and date for the second round are still to be determined.
“They got it done,” Gainesville head coach Kellie Smith said. “I told them to play their game and they did that.
“I had all the confidence in the world.”
Gainesville freshman Katherine Wright, whose win last week clinched the region title for the team, continued to roll with a quick 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 3 singles against North Paulding.
“Wright’s a freshman, and she made a statement (today),” Smith said. “It gave the rest of the team more confidence.”
Wright said she just told herself not to force anything with the big lead because any error could allow her opponent back into the match.
“Most of the points were put-away shots,” Wright said after her win. “My opponent’s slice-shot caught me off guard a few times, but sometimes in these matches you really can beat yourself.
“I try not to kill the shots. I just put them away.”
Wright also said she was nervous because of the state-playoff atmosphere.
“Everyone’s going to be good, and we don’t really know what to expect,” she said.
Gainesville junior Brinkley Frankum added to the Lady Red Elephants’ dominant performance, winning her match from the No. 1 singles spot, 6-3, 6-1.
Frankum said her opponent could hit and return the tennis ball well, so she had to earn her points by rallying and volleying well and not forcing errors en route to victory.
“I had to play smart,” Frankum said. “She was a good player. I just stayed focused. I didn’t think about the score. I just thought about the next point.”
In the second round of the playoffs, Frankum and her team expect the competition to be more intense but they plan to stay focused and continue playing their game.
“We’re expecting great teams in state,” Frankum said. “We expect the best, but it’s a team effort.
“Each match is just as important (as the last). We all value the same things.”
Georgia Summer secured the sweep of the Lady Wolfpack with a 6-1, 6-3 win at No. 2 singles, and Lauren Carter/Morgan Mercer won their doubles match, 6-0, 6-1. The doubles pairing of Katherine Anderson/Martha McKinnon closed out their opponents, 6-4, 6-2.
Smith said Tuesday’s test was a good thing because the playoffs offer no bad teams.
“This match prepared us for the next round. You’re not going to play a weak opponent in the state playoffs.”