It was a lot harder than it looked for the Brookstone girls tennis team.
On the surface, its five-match sweep of visiting Holy Innocents’ in the first round of the Class A private playoffs may look like another run-of-the-mill victory, but the Lady Cougars (15-3) were quick to dismiss that notion.
“It was a challenge,” coach Mary Lynne Cumiskey said. “When you’re playing a private school from Atlanta, you’re going to be playing good players with good backgrounds.”
It showed in the opening sets for the majority of Brookstone’s players.
Avery Hudson (No. 1 singles) had to battle to a 6-4 win in her first set before settling in for a 6-1 win in the second. The team of Abby White and Alexandra McCluskey (No. 1 doubles) won its first set 6-4 before settling in for a 6-0 win in the second set. Jessica Lewis (No. 3 singles) won 6-3, 6-3 and Rachel Levy (No. 2 singles) battled for a three-set victory, 4-6, 6-0 and 6-1.
The No. 2 doubles team of Emmie Patton and Rachel Hemmings won its match easily with shutouts in both sets.
“If you notice, a few struggled in the first set and then had to settle down a little bit to get the win,” Cumiskey said. “Some are just slower starters. That’s part of the mental aspect.”
Hudson, who was tied 4-4 in the first set and trailing 40-0 in the ninth game, said she had a lot of early momentum shifts to battle through before finally settling into a groove. She came back to win that ninth game and lost just one game the rest of the match. Her victory was Brookstone’s third, clinching the team victory.
“On the first set, I always get a little nervous,” she said with a smile. “(Opponent Anne-Claire Pittman) was making great shots, and we just had momentum going back and forth. Finally, I clinched it.”
Hudson pointed out that the format for the playoffs this year had a lot to do with the tougher opponent in the first round. Because of the public-private split, Brookstone is facing a comparable team early in the playoffs.
Now that the Lady Cougars have gotten over that hurdle, though, that might be a positive.
“One player came to me after she finished and told me how good it feels to have this match behind us,” Cumiskey said. “She feels like we’re a lot more prepared going forward.”
“We’ve prepared a lot more because we know we’re going to be facing a lot tougher competition,” Hudson added. “This was a harder match. That should help us.”
Brookstone will face the winner of Providence and Walker in the second round. The date and time for the match is not determined, but it must be played by May 4.
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.
Wednesday at Brookstone
No. 1: Avery Hudson d. Anne-Claire Pittman (6-4, 6-1); No. 2: Rachel Levy d. Natalie Kessler (4-6, 6-0, 6-1); No. 3: Jessica Lewis d. Elizabeth Kendrick (6-3, 6-3).
No. 1: Abby White/Alexandra McCluskey d. Lena Ashley/Christin Grulke (6-4, 6-0); No. 2: Emmie Patton/Rachel Hemmings d. Ansley Carter/Samantha Jones Shah (6-0, 6-0).
Next: Brookstone, vs. Providence/Walker.