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Prep tennis: All five state-ranked teams advance to quarterfinals
Gainesville High’s Elizabeth Hood, front, and Darby Jackson play No. 2 doubles against West Hall High during the first round of the region tennis tournament at Alberta Banks Park on Wednesday morning. - photo by ROBIN MICHENER NATHAN | The Times


North Hall's girls coach Roger Fannon talks about the Lady Trojans' performance.

FLOWERY BRANCH — On a cloudless day on courts at two Flowery Branch locales, Sterling on the Lake and Alberta Banks Park, tennis teams from Region 7-AAA began their bids for not only a region title but, also, a state playoff berth.

On the girls side, the top two seeds from each subregion in Region 7-AAA made it to the quarterfinals, and secured a spot in the state playoffs. Today, No. 1 seed North Hall will take on No. 2 seed Pickens, both from the north subregion and No. 1 seed West Forsyth will take on No. 2 seed Gilmer, both from the south subregion.

The girls quarterfinals’ matches will both be played at 10 a.m. today at Alberta Banks Park.

The day started for the girls with four simultaneous matches.

No. 4-seed Flowery Branch upset No. 3-seed Johnson 3-0, Lumpkin County beat White County 3-0, No. 4-seed East Hall upset No. 3-seed Chestatee 3-2 and West Hall swept Gainesville 3-0.

With a chance to play for state on the line, the eight remaining girls teams in the Region 7-AAA tournament took the courts.

In the first two matches, undefeated North Hall (17-0) beat Flowery Branch 4-0 and Pickens defeated Lumpkin County 3-0.

Brooke Riley was the lone singles winner for Pickens, while the doubles teams of Anna Morris/Mary Jasperse and Jessi Padgett/Abby Callahan both won their matches.

“I thought the girls did extremely well,” Pickens girls coach Dan Gabriel said. “We started off slow because we played Lumpkin a couple of weeks ago and maybe thought we could just slide by and win.”

For the Lady Trojans, Cara Reece and Jessica Butts were singles winners while the doubles teams of Lauren Bolton/Courtney Wiley and Rachel Langman/Mary Beth Brown easily dispensed of their doubles opponents with Langman/Brown winning in straight sets.

“We played real well,” North Hall coach Roger Fannon said. “Flowery Branch is a good team and we knew they were good. We came in ready to play and we did a good job.

“Our No. 2 doubles team did an outstanding job and the No. 1 singles player stepped it up the second set and beat (Flowery Branch senior) Jennica (Ramey), who’s tough and a good player.”

In the final two girls matches of the night, undefeated West Forsyth(16-0) beat East Hall 3-0 and Gilmer (14-2) beat West Hall 3-1.

“My girls did well,” West Forsyth girls coach James Hallewell said. “They practiced well this morning and came out and played to win.”

Individual winners for West Forsyth were singles players Megan Pepe, Sarah Fogg and Macy Day.
The lone winner for the Lady Spartans (10-6) in their match with Gilmer was the No. 1 doubles team of Alex Wright and Ali Parham.

Unlike the girls, not all of the top boys’ seeds advanced to the quarterfinal round as, in the nightcap, No. 3 seed West Hall defeated No. 2 seed White County (11-3) 4-0.

West Hall, the eighth-ranked team in Class AAA will play Class AAA No. 3-ranked Gainesville, which beat Lumpkin 5-0 in the second round, in the quarterfinals at 11:30 a.m. today at Alberta Banks Park.

Individual winners for West Hall in its match with West Forsyth were singles Alan Clark and Luis Flores and the doubles teams of Derek Weatherly/Jimmy Kincaid and Kyle Weatherly/Ricky Vital.

For Gainesville (13-1) winners were, singles, James Wassel, Ryan Joiner and Andreo Belch and the doubles teams of Louis Hokayem/Graham Williams and Drew Denning/Robbie Bilbrough.

Both West Hall (13-4) and Gainesville, with the second-round wins, advanced to the state tournament.
“Being in the state tournament is great,” Gainesville boys coach Barrett Lingenfelter said. “But we are really focused on our next match.

“Winning a region championship is very important to us here at Gainesville.”

The other boys teams that not only advanced to the quarterfinals of the Region 7-AAA tournament but staked their claim to a spot in the state tournament were Class AAA No. 2-ranked Johnson, which swept Gilmer 4-0, and the No. 1 seed out of the north subregion, North Hall which beat Flowery Branch 3-1.

“We battled hard, everyone took their match to three sets,” lone Flowery Branch senior Blake Caviness said. “It killed us having a match this morning and then having to play again, but I thought we did well.”
Johnson (14-4) and North Hall (10-7) will vie for a spot in the region tournament semifinals at 11:30 a.m. today at Alberta Banks Park.

Individual winners for Johnson were singles Seth Hester, Brandon Sloan and the doubles team of TJ Williams/Stephen Hester and Williams Anthony/Scott Allan.

For North Hall, the individual winners were singles Eli LoCicero, Clayton Nedza and Mitch McCray.

“I’m thrilled with our performance,” North Hall coach Bob Woodworth said. “We’ve got a young team and we exceeded expectations.

“It’s going to be a touch match (playing Johnson). They are a well-coached team and are experienced but we are going to do the best we can and we aren’t just going to give it away because they are good.”

In the other games played in the boys bracket the higher seed won with the exception of one matchup as No. 5 seed Lumpkin County overcame No. 4 seed Chestatee 3-2.

For the other matches, Flowery Branch beat West Forsyth 3-2, Gilmer beat East Hall 3-0, and West Hall beat Pickens 3-0.

Regional events