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North Hall girls tennis team sweeps Hart County 5-0 in playoff opener
Lady Trojans advance to host Westminster next week in Gainesville
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Anna Montgomery of North Hall hits the ball during a singles match in the first round of the Class 3A state tennis tournament against Hart County High in Gainesville, on Thursday, April 19, 2018. - photo by David Barnes

Girls tennis coach Bob Woodworth made some changes to his lineup at North Hall to prepare for the Region 7-3A tournament — most notably, the strong singles play of Greater Atlanta Christian in the championship match. It worked so well, he kept it intact and carried it into the postseason. 

The first test in state, the Lady Trojans passed with flying colors, beating Hart County 5-0 Thursday to open the Class 3A state tournament in Gainesville. 

What Woodworth did to shake up his lineup was bump Christen Barnes up one spot to No. 2 singles, while sliding Sydney Patterson in at the No. 3 spot. To fill one of the spots at No. 1 doubles, North Hall’s veteran coach pulled in Carsen Baumgartner in to join forces with Lauren Davis, which he said has worked out well to this point.

“I’m really excited about how we played today, especially our doubles,” Woodworth said. “They did exactly what I wanted them to do.

“They did a good job of constructing points, capitalizing on their opponents’ mistakes and finding their weaknesses.”

With the win, North Hall will face Westminster in the second round on Tuesday. This is a rematch of the 2017 state semifinals — the difference being the 2018 playoff meeting will be in Gainesville. Time is still to be determined by the coaches. 

Westminster beat Haralson County 5-0 in its playoff opener this week.

The Lady Trojans have a bit more experience this year with all seven players being members of the varsity squad in 2017.

The 90-minute playoff opener for North Hall was accentuated by exceptional play by Anna Montgomery at No. 1 singles and Barnes at No. 2. Both faced quality opponents and steadily pulled away for victories in two sets. The sophomore Montgomery won 7-5, 6-2 against a talented Moribeth Starret from Hart County. Meanwhile, Barnes was a 6-2, 6-2 winner against Hart County’s Hannah Teasley. 

Once the first doubles match was won by North Hall, Sydney Patterson took the court in No. 3 singles and won in straight sets against Hart County’s Rachel Tellano.

One of the biggest keys, according to the Trojans’ players, is consistently talking with one another about the expectation to make it back to the semifinals — or better — this season. Montgomery and Barnes said the lineup changes have helped everyone, and the team has received an extra boost from the reliable play of Baumgartner and Davis at No. 1 singles, and Ella Oxley and Raquel Kallab at No. 2 doubles. 

“It’s crucial for us to talk about our expectations,” the senior Barnes said. “We talk about it and try to speak it into existence.”

Still, Montgomery knows that expectations are nullified if they don’t produce the results to back it up.

“We can’t expect anything to be easy for us,” Montgomery said. “We have to keep fighting to play our best.”

Initial results of Woodworth’s changes to the lineup were positive, as Barnes and Patterson both won their singles matches before a 3-0 final was declared against Greater Atlanta Christian to earn the region championship earlier this month. Now, North Hall is one of 16 teams remaining in the field of contenders for the Class 3A state championship. 

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