Posted: Friday, April 18th 2014 at 9:21am
Tennis: Lady Red Elephants and Falcons repeat as Region 8AAAAA champions
By Luke Story Staff
Teammates run to hug Katherine Wright after her Region 8-AAAAA championship-clinching victory on Thursday in Flowery Branch.
FLOWERY BRANCH –- Katherine Wright had been here before -- and she played like it on Thursday.
Exactly one year ago, Wright's nail-biting singles victory netted the Gainesville girls tennis team a Region 8-AAAAA championship over rival Flowery Branch, so when the courts around her cleared out on Thursday Wright simply turned her mind back and turned over the Lady Falcons, again.
Wright edged out Durden Smith 7-6, 6-4 at No. 2 singles to clinch a 3-1 championship over Flowery Branch on its home court. The Falcons bounced back in force in the boys final, sweeping Gainesville 3-0.
“I really wanted it today, she beat me earlier in the season, so getting the win means so much to me personally and the team,” said Wright.
The win certainly did not come easy for Wright or her Gainesville team.
Wright and Durden battled to the point fatigue before Wright finalized the match on a strong forehand smash down the right sideline to claim the win.
Flowery Branch’s girls got things going in style as No. 1 singles player Nicole Morris defeated Georgia Summers 6-3, 6-0 in a grinding match-up.
But the Lady Red Elephants' Brinkley Frankum answered with a 6-3, 6-3 over Madison Smith at No. 3 singles to knot the team score at 1-1. Gainesville then gained a 2-1 advantage courtesy its No. 1 doubles team, as seniors Morgan Mercer and Suzanne Smith earned a vital point by edging out Flowery Branch’s Breanna Benton and Brooke Kane in a tight match that included a tiebreaker, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.
After the match the seniors, surrounded by their teammates and filled with excitement wanted to thank one person.
“We want to thank our coach Kellie Smith for all she has done for us this year; coach started with the program our freshman year, and it just means so much for us to be able to win this for her,” said Mercer and Smith almost in unison.
Coach Smith credited the Lady Red Elephants win to the team’s confidence.
“The girls really believed in themselves today, we were ready and prepared for this tournament, this win is huge for us,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, the tables turned on the boys’ side of the 8–AAAAA tournament, as the Falcons defeated the Red Elephants in three straight matches. From start to finish the Falcons looked focused, proving too tough for the Red Elephants, and Flowery Branch coach Todd Vokal says that was the key to victory.
“The team is really confident and mentally prepared and that is what makes the difference for this team,” said coach Vokal.
Flowery Branch stormed to wins at No. 1 singles -– Beau Millwood defeating Graham McKinnon 6-1, 6-3 -- at No. 3 singles -- Phillip Correa winning over Davis Brown 6-4, 6-1 -- and at No. 2 doubles –- Quang Cao and Austin Higgs overpowering Charles Calkins and Trevor Munn 6-1, 6,4.
Both the Lady Red Elephants and the Falcons secured No. 1 seeds for the first round of the state championships with their region title claims.
Both teams will play a Region 6-AAAAA competitor in the first round.
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