It wasn’t just a win for the Columbus High girls tennis team on Tuesday, it was a boost of confidence.
After losing its last match against LaGrange in the region final, Columbus came up with a 5-0 sweep of visiting Chestatee in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs at Lakebottom Park.
“It was a big first step for confidence,” coach Mikel Hill said after the Lady Blue Devils (17-5) had clinched a victory with wins in three matches. “I hope for them, it gives them more confidence. Losing to LaGrange may have set us back a little bit, but I think this one will help.”
The win will potentially pit the girls against top-seeded Marist, which faced No. 4-seed LaFayette in its first-round matchup. The Columbus boys face Marist in their second-round matchup, so it is possible the two teams will play back-to-back on the road. Times and dates for neither match have been announced, but those matches must be completed by April 30.
The Lady Blue Devils got wins from Abby Courville in No. 1 singles (6-1, 6-2), Rachel Harp in No. 2 singles (6-0, 6-1) and the team of Madelyn Boren and Kate Mize in No. 1 doubles (6-2, 6-1) to grab a victory in the match.
Elsa Burbelo won at No. 3 singles (6-2, 6-1) and the team of Margaret Mason and Akshaya Shan won No. 2 doubles (1-6, 6-3, 7-5) to complete the sweep.
Harp echoed her coach’s comments about the confidence factor moving forward, especially with a potential challenge looming in the second round.
“It’s just a confidence boost,” she said. “We all know how badly everyone wants to win, so we’re just approaching it that way. We’ve faced a lot of tough opponents in the past, so we have experience.”
With that said, this group didn’t make it out of the first round a season ago, so in a lot of ways it will be a fresh experience.
As the Lady Blue Devils prepare for the second round, Hill said they will work on keeping the singles players conditioned. For doubles, they will continue to improve their strategy and setting each other up for points.
At some point, they know, too, that the match won’t come quite as easily.
“Yeah, you can’t sweep all of them,” Hill said.
Burbelo knows that a situation may arise in which the first four matches split, and it will be down to her in No. 3 singles. She said she doesn’t worry about that possibility, and the rest of the team is confident in their abilities to rise to the occasion, as well.
“I like (those situations),” she said with a laugh. “I’m kind of known for liking those dramatic situations. Whatever happens, though, the rest of the team is always there to pick each other up.”
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.
Tuesday at Lakebottom
No. 1: Abby Courville d. Lily Kiang (6-1, 6-2); No. 2: Rachel Harp d. Fernanda Arcaraz (6-0, 6-1); No. 3: Elsa Burbelo d. Tyler Bennett (6-2, 6-1).
No. 1: Madelyn Boren/Kate Mize d. Grace Brown/Hayley King (6-2, 6-1); No. 2: Margaret Mason/Akshaya Shan d. Lauren McNitt/Carolina Gijon (1-6, 6-3, 7-5).
Next: Columbus, vs. Marist/LaFayette, TBA