High School Tennis
Third time the charm as ECHS boys win region
The third time was the charm for East Coweta boys tennis team against rival Newnan. And it came at just the right moment as well while claiming a Region 3-AAAAAA championship on Wednesday over the Cougars at the Summit Family YMCA.
Following a pair of 3-2 losses to the Cougars during the regular season, the Indians saved their best for last in yet another highly contested battle between the two rivals that ended in a 5-0 victory for the Indians, who won a pair of tiebreakers along the way. 'It could have gone either way,' said longtime East Coweta head coach Scott Smith of the victory. 'Tennis is a game of adjustments. You've got to play your game, but you've also got to adjust to your opponent as well. Having seen them those two times, my kids were able to adjust to their style of play.'
The Indians will now host Colquitt County, the No. 4 seed out of Region 1-AAAAAA, to open the state tournament while Newnan will host Lowndes after finishing as 3-AAAAAA runner-up.
All four county lineups advanced to the Class AAAAAA state playoffs following Wednesday's tournament. In girls action, the Lady Cougars finished as region runner-up to Westlake while East Coweta earned the No. 3 seed out of 3-AAAAAA.
Newnan's girls defeated the Lady Indians 4-1 in the semifinals en route to its second-place finish after falling 3-2 to Westlake.
The afternoon, however, may have belonged to East Coweta's boys.
An Indians lineup led by three senior singles players overcame a pair of losses to Newnan dominated by tiebreakers in yet another close match where the final score was a deceiving.
'I wish it had been more like 3-2, because that's the way it played,' Smith said. 'It was just a matter of time.'
Stopped in straight sets by Newnan's No. 1 singles player William Ballou in the last meeting between rivals on April 2, East Coweta's Matt Byers battled back for a 3-6, 7-5, 10-8 victory among a pair of tiebreaker victories in singles play.
The other came at the No. 3 position from Indian Moises Escobar, who avenged an earlier loss to Newnan's Mikey Miller by taking the opening set and the eventual tiebreaker in a 6-2, 2-6, 11-9 victory.
At No. 2 singles, East Coweta's Mitchell Corley completed the sweep by defeating Cougar Landon Goolsby 6-4, 7-5.
'We played really, really good today,' said Newnan head coach Hap Hines. 'You've got to give East Coweta and Scott Smith credit. They won with class and dignity. EC just got the big point shots today.'
The Indians, who advanced to the finals with a 4-1 victory over Douglas County, were led in the championship match by dominating efforts from doubles lineups.
Twin juniors Oliver and Andy Truong won both of their matches on Wednesday in straight sets, adding a 6-1, 6-0 effort over Newnan's No. 1 pairing of Stewart Rand and Sam Thomas. The Truong brothers gave up only three games to opponents over their two victories on Wednesday.
With the match decided, the Cougars' No. 2 team of Dalton Ayers and Bennett Souter stayed on the court, battling East Coweta's tandem of Nick Smith and Jun Kwon, with the Indian duo winning 6-1, 6-1.
'I was especially proud of those two,' said Hines. 'That meant a lot to me.'
The Indians' only loss to Douglas County came at No. 1 singles while Corley (6-2, 6-0), Escobar (6-4, 6-1) and doubles teams of the Truongs (6-1, 6-0) and Seth Belcher and Chandler Smith (6-0, 6-0) won matches.
The Cougars reached the finals with a 3-1 victory over Westlake, led by Georgia Tech signee Chris Eubanks at No. 1 singles. Miller and Newnan's top doubles tandem of Rand and Thomas (6-1, 6-0) won matches while earning a forfeit at the No. 2 doubles spot.
In girls action, the Lady Cougars defeated East Coweta in the region semifinals while sweeping doubles action.
Newnan's No. 1 team of Lollie Davis and Olivia Dumas defeated Gillian Revoir and Raelee Heinz 6-0, 6-2 while Lady Cougar sophomores Ansley Knight and Lindley Hudson held off Nicole Tansey and Michelle Kim at No. 2 doubles 6-0, 6-1.
The most competitive match came at No. 1 singles, where Newnan's Gray Griffies held off Lady Indian Priscilla Truong 7-5, 6-7 (10-7).
Caroline Davis defeated East Coweta's Taylor Morris 6-3, 6-2 at No. 3 singles to give the Lady Cougars their other victory.
The Lady Indians win came from Jasmine Keiler at No. 2 singles in a 6-0, 6-2 decision over Newnan's Carly Griffies.
The Lady Cougars dropped a 3-2 decision in the region finals while picking up wins from Davis at No. 3 singles as well as a 6-1, 6-3 effort by Emily Ferguson and Ansley Knight at No. 2 doubles.
The match hinged on the No. 1 doubles line, where Dumas and Davis battled back from a set down before falling in a tiebreaker 1-6, 6-2, 10-7.
East Coweta's girls battled back to defeat Douglas County in the consolation finals 3-1 while paced by straight-set victories from Priscilla Truong and Keiler at No. 1 and No. 2 singles. Heinz capped off the team win by rallying for a 2-6, 6-1, 10-4 victory at the No. 3 position.