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High school tennis: Gainesville cruises to Round 1 win
Gainesville High's Robbie Bilbrough keeps his eye on the ball as he prepares to return a shot to a Stephens County player during the first round of the Class AAA tennis tournament Wednesday at Longwood Park. Gainesville won 5-0. - photo by Tom Reed

Prior to the start of his opening-round match of the state tennis tournament, Gainesville senior Louis Hokayem had three words to say: “Watch this show.”

And what a show it was.

With powerful serves and perfectly placed backhands, Hokayem and his No. 1 doubles partner Corey McDonald rolled past the Stephens County duo of Symon Clovatra and J.J. Thomas, 6-2, 6-0, to help Gainesville (16-2) to a 5-0 win over the Indians (6-10) during the first round of the Class AAA tennis tounament Wednesday at Longwood Park.

“Just another day for No. 1 doubles,” McDonald said.

“We’ve been putting on a show all year,” Hokayem added.

Not only did the No. 1 doubles team put on a tennis clinic, but the entire Gainesville team proved that its No. 6 ranking and 14 straight victories aren’t a fluke.

The first to prove that was the No. 2 singles player Connor McMorrow, who cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 win over Nick Adams.
Shortly after Hokayem and McDonald finished their win, the No. 1 singles player Ryan Joiner completed his 6-1, 6-1 victory over Jonathan Adams to secure the first-round victory.

The win advances Gainesville to the second round of the state tournament where it will take on the winner of the Dunwoody/Carrollton match.

“We felt good coming off the championship win,” Gainesville coach Barrett Lingenfelter said refering to the Red Elephants’ victory in the Region 7-AAA title game last week. “We built a lot of momentum off that.”

They proved it Wednesday.

With the match already in hand, Gainesville completed the sweep with a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 3 singles by Doug McDuff and a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 2 doubles by the team of Robbie Bilbrough and Drew Denning.

Both doubles teams and Joiner have not lost a match since the region schedule began, and knowing that, Gainesville enters every match with a positive outlook.

“Confidence is everything,” Hokayem said. “If you know you have two spots locked up that makes you feel good.”

The senior also said he and his partner get confidence from practice.

“We’re used to big wins because every day in practice we get them over our No. 2 doubles team,” Hokayem said.

Despite the high level of confidence and the easy win in Round 1, the Red Elephants know that the road ahead of won’t be an easy one.

“We’re really confident, but we don’t know much about the other teams,” McDonald said.

“The region came easy, but the state tournament isn’t gonna be that way,” Hokayem added. “From here on out there are no easy wins.”

Regional events