High School Tennis
Lady Cougars advance to Sweet 16
Newnan’s girls tennis team picked up a key doubles victory from senior Emily Ferguson and partner Ansley Knight that allowed the Lady Cougars to advance past Lowndes in the first round of the GHSA Class AAAAAA state tournament on Tuesday at home.
The win from Ferguson and Knight capped off a 3-2 victory over the Lady Vikings, who captured two of three singles matches after finishing as the No. 3 seed out of Region 1-AAAAAA.
“It’s a huge win, one of the biggest that I’ve been a part of in the program,” said Newnan head coach Hap Hines. “Both teams played with class. Coach Heath Phelps and Lowndes program should be commended.”
The Lady Cougars, the No. 2 seed out of 3-AAAAAA, now advance to face either Region 2 champion Rockdale County or North Cobb, the No. 4 seed out of Region 4.
The win came a day after Newnan’s boys dropped a 5-0 first-round match at home to Camden County to close the season. East Coweta’s girls also fell 5-0 while opening the state playoffs Tuesday at Coffee, while the Indians — this year’s Region 3-AAAAAA champions — host Colquitt County today at 3:30 p.m.
Newnan’s girls bucked elimination against a 12-7 Lowndes lineup that also finished 5-1 in 1-AAAAAA play during the regular season.
Led by No. 1 singles player Taylor Vinge, who is headed to Coastal Georgia on a scholarship, the Lady Vikings earned wins at the top-two positions. Vinge held off Gray Griffies 6-0, 6-0 while Carly Griffies put forth a fierce challenge in her No. 2 singles match before falling 6-2, 6-3.
“She battled,” Hines said. “They had a couple of points that seemed to last three minutes.”
Newnan’s girls, however, were able to keep the match even by picking up wins at No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles.
In singles, Caroline Davis defeated her opponent 6-2, 6-2 while freshman Olivia Dumas and Lollie Davis also came through with a 6-2, 6-3 victory at Newnan’s No. 1 doubles spot.
That left Ferguson and Knight to determine the match at No. 2 doubles.
The Lady Cougars duo, who have been rotating in and out with Lindley Hudson at the No. 2 position, held their own in a clinching 6-2, 6-4 decision.
Hudson also picked up a 6-4, 6-4 win in a challenge match as all three players experienced a victory on Tuesday.
“Lindley is as big a piece to this team as anybody,” Hines added of Hudson. “That showed what a team player she is for us. She’s going to be a position where it’s going to be tough to keep her out of the lineup.”
Newnan’s boys, which also finished as the No. 2 seed in 3-AAAAAA, were shut out by Camden in a deceiving score where all five of the Cougars’ lines won at least four games against respective opponents.
Junior William Ballou fought through a first-set tiebreaker at No. 1 singles where he rallied from a 4-1 deficit to take a 5-4 lead. The match ended in a tough 6-7 (4-7), 4-6 loss.
“The guys had a great year,” said Hines. “They went undefeated in the region regular season schedule and had to beat East Coweta three times to take the number one seed. They were right there.”
Landon Goolsby and Mikey Miller also dropped respective No. 2 and No. 3 singles matches, falling 6-2, 6-2 and 6-2, 6-3.
Camden added a sweep in doubles despite Newnan’s No. 1 team of Stewart Rand and Sam Thomas taking four games in the opening set. The pair fell 6-4, 6-1 while teammates Bennett Souter and Dalton Ayers fell 6-3, 6-2 at the No. 2 position.