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Wright leads Gainesville girls tennis past Sequoyah in second round
Lady Red Elephants advance to Class AAAAA state quarterfinals
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Katherine Wright found herself in a familiar situation Monday.

With Gainesville and Sequoyah girls tennis teams knotted at two wins apiece in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs, Wright had the team on her shoulders once again. A little more than a week ago, she encountered the same scenario in Region 8-AAAAA championship round.

Practice makes perfect.

Wright defeated Sequoyah’s Morgan Dodd 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 at No. 2 singles, and the Lady Red Elephants overcame an early deficit to defeat the Lady Wolverines 3-2 and advance to the state quarterfinals.

“I knew it was up to me again,” Wright said. “I knew I had to just grind it out.”

After losing a 5-1 lead in the second set, Wright bounced back in a long third set against the powerful-serving Dodd, using a calm but confident style of play to win the three-hour match. She kept her shots deep and accurate, forcing Dodd to reach for rallies.

While she battled Dodd, Gainesville’s doubles teams alleviated losses at No. 1 and No. 3 singles with a pair of victories to even the team score.

“We should give it all to our doubles, because they both came through,” Wright said. “It could’ve come down to any of us, and I think both the doubles would’ve pulled it out, too.”

The Lady Red Elephants are in the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2005. They’ll face Cambridge later this week at Longwood Park.

Wright clinched Gainesville’s region championship victory against Flowery Branch on Apr. 17, winning at No. 2 singles in straight sets to win the Lady Red Elephants’ third match.

Monday’s match had a bigger implication: Lose, and Gainesville’s season is over.

That wasn’t an option.

“I had confidence she could do it,” Lady Red Elephants coach Kellie Smith said. “Especially when she was ahead in the second set, and she sort of gave it away. I knew that would make her mad, and make her say, ‘I’m going to win, no matter what it takes.’”

Gainesville trailed early in the day, after Georgia Summer and Brinkley Frankum lost their singles matches in straight sets. The No. 2 doubles team of Haley Frankum and Josie Evert put the Lady Red Elephants on the board with a 6-4, 6-4 win, followed shortly thereafter by a 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 victory from Morgan Mercer and Suzanne Smith at No. 1 doubles.

The Longwood Park crowd then shifted its attention to the No. 2 singles court, and Wright was able to keep her composure despite the increased attention.

“I have trouble with that too — with focusing on my match,” Wright said. “I’m surprised that I didn’t break down.

“This match was a lot harder than usual because her serve was so amazing. It was hard to break that. Of course,everyone I play in region is really good, but this match was a little more competitive and I really had to turn it on every single game in order to stay ahead.”

Sequoyah’s season is complete with the loss.

BLESSED TRINITY BOYS 3, NORTH HALL 0: A historic season for the Trojans came to end with Monday’s second-round loss to the defending state champion Titans.

North Hall (18-4) lost a pair singles matches before Blessed Trinity (11-7) secured the win with a victory at No. 1 doubles.

The Trojans concluded their 2014 campaign with a Region 7-AAA title and the team’s first playoff victory since 2007.

“We sure had a good time and really enjoyed the region championship,” North Hall coach Bob Woodworth said. “That was great.”

Woodworth returns his entire lineup next season. He had an all-sophomore team this year, aside from one junior and one freshman.

“The girls are pretty much all 11th-graders, the boys are all 10th-graders,” Woodworth said. “That’s just the wave of our program being built. There will be more coming.”

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