High School Sports

11 Columbus area teams qualified for 2019 state tennis playoffs. Here’s who’s left.

Northside High School tennis player Maya Boynton competes against Druid Hills’ Sabina Iqubal in the first round of the GHSA AAAA state tennis playoffs Tuesday afternoon at Cooper Creek Tennis Center in Columbus, Georgia.
Northside High School tennis player Maya Boynton competes against Druid Hills’ Sabina Iqubal in the first round of the GHSA AAAA state tennis playoffs Tuesday afternoon at Cooper Creek Tennis Center in Columbus, Georgia. Special to the Ledger-Enquirer/Darrell Roaden

Eleven teams in the Columbus area have qualified for state tennis playoffs.

First-round matches started this week in the Georgia High School Association, and the Alabama Independent School Association finished its tournament last week. Here’s a roundup of local results.

The GHSA’s boys and girls brackets in Class 2A through Class 7A have 32 teams each, with the top four finishers in the eight regions qualifying for the state playoffs.

The boys and girls Class A public-school and private-school brackets have 16 teams each, with the top four finishers in the four areas qualifying for the state playoffs.

Columbus girls

In Class AAAA, the Region 1 first-seeded Columbus Blue Devils swept Region 4 fourth seed Hampton 5-0 at Lakebottom.

Columbus seniors Mary Weston Courville, Sydney McRae and Joy Mobley dominated their singles matches, 6-0, 6-0. The No. 2 doubles team of senior Lexi Grier and sophomore Kelsey Human also won 6-0, 6-0, and the No. 1 doubles team of junior Olivia Philips and senior Kindra Woodman won 6-2, 6-4.

“It’s a great start to our playoff season,” said Columbus coach MikelAnna Hill. “The girls knew they had to play hard and well, and they came out really strong.”

Columbus next plays Region 2 second seed Mary Persons in the Sweet 16 April 22, starting at 4:30 p.m., at Lakebottom.

The Blue Devils, region champions for the seventh straight year, are seeking a state title with five of their seven starters back from last season’s team, which finished as the Class AAAA runner-up.

They are 19-2 this year.

“Going into the season, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Hill, in her eighth year as the program’s coach. “I moved some people around a little bit. They aren’t playing in the exact same spots. We were winning, but it took time for them to gain confidence in themselves. The more we played against the better schools, they realized we have a shot at doing something special this year.”

They did something special in 2016, winning a state championship. Now, Courville at No. 1 singles is the only player left from that team.

“She’s very much a leader,” Hill said. “She leads by example and with her words and her competitive nature.”

Northside girls

In Class AAAA, the Region 1 second-seeded Northside Patriots beat Region 4 third seed Druid Hills 4-1 at Cooper Creek.

Winning their matches in straight sets for Northside were: junior Maya Boynton, 6-3, 6-1, at No. 1 singles; junior Mary Cawthorne, 6-0, 6-2, at No. 2 singles; senior Kaylee Lowe and her sister, freshman Paige Lowe, 6-0, 6-1, at No. 1 doubles; and freshman McKenzie Copeland and junior Tori Taft, 6-0, 6-1, at No. 2 doubles.

Northside advanced to the Sweet 16 and will play Monday at Region 2 first seed West Laurens. The match time hasn’t been set.

Last season, the Patriots reached the Elite Eight for the first time in the program’s history. Five of the seven starters from that team returned, so second-year coach Hunter Davis is optimistic about their chances of advancing farther.

“We may be better this year,” he said. “We’re more of a whole team, better from top to bottom.”

Davis especially was pleased with the first-round performance of his top two singles players, Boynton and Cawthorne.

“Any time you can win at 1 and 2 singles against an Atlanta area team,” he said, “you’ve done something pretty strong.”

Shaw girls

In Class AAAA, the Region 1 third-seeded Shaw Raiders lost 3-1 at Region 4 second seed Eastside.

The lone point for Shaw came from senior Alonda Weaver, who won 6-4, 6-3 at No. 2 singles.

Harris County girls

In Class AAAAA, the Region 1 fourth-seeded Harris County Tigers lost at Region 4 first seed Union Grove 3-0.

Brookstone girls

In the Class A private-school bracket, the Area 1 first-seeded Brookstone Cougars will host Area 4 fourth seed Mount Pisgah. Their match is tentatively scheduled to start Monday at noon.

Glenwood girls

In the AISA, the Glenwood Gators finished fourth at the state tournament.

Katie Jones of Glenwood won the No. 1 singles title with a comeback victory over Ellie Adams of Morgan Academy, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, in the final at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.

Columbus boys

In Class AAAA, the Region 1 first-seeded Columbus Blue Devils swept Region 4 fourth seed Eastside 5-0 at Lakebottom.

In singles, senior Harrison Brown won 6-0, 6-0, as did sophomore William Holden, and junior Carson Johnson won 6-1, 7-5. In doubles, senior Raymond Peebles and junior Julian Watts won 6-0, 6-1, and senior Tyler Hanson and sophomore Akash Shan won 6-0, 6-0.

“It’s a great feeling,” said first-year Columbus coach Millicent Brooks-Millender. “We’ll just try to keep the momentum going and minimize our mistakes.”

Columbus (17-5) advanced to the Sweet 16 and will host Region 2 second seed Mary Persons on Monday, starting at 2 p.m., at Lakebottom.

The Blue Devils reached the Elite Eight last season. Eight of their top 11 players from that team returned this season.

“We’re hoping to go farther this year,” Brooks-Millender said.

Northside boys

In Class AAAA, the Region 1 second-seeded Northside Patriots lost 3-2 to Region 4 third seed Druid Hills at Cooper Creek.

Northside won both doubles matches but lost the three singles matches.

At No. 1 doubles, juniors Tucker Stone and Max Myers won 7-6 (7-2), 6-2. At No. 2 doubles, senior Nathan Trieu and junior Rhett Seitz won 6-1, 6-1.

Last season, the Patriots reached the Class AAAA Elite Eight. They returned six of their seven starters this season.

“I thought we had a pretty good chance to move on, but, for whatever reason, we skimped on the fundamentals, we didn’t move our feet very well, and we didn’t follow through on our shots,” said Northside coach Hunter Davis. “We kind of played lackluster.”

Nonetheless, Davis added that he is proud of the leadership from the team’s two seniors, Trieu and No. 1 singles player Jonathan Hicks.

“It’s not always about the wins and losses in what makes great leaders, and my two seniors led by example for the entirety of the season,” he said. “Although things didn’t pan out how we envisioned, they taught the younger guys a lot about what it means to be a Northside Patriot.”

Shaw boys

In Class AAAA, the Region 1 fourth-seeded Shaw Raiders were swept 5-0 at Region 4 first seed Woodward.

Harris County boys

In Class AAAAA, the Region 1 third-seeded Harris County Tigers won 3-0 at Region 4 second seed Jones County.

Notching the victories for Harris County were: senior Gabe Davidson, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 1 singles; seniors Aaron Hardwick and Gaven Liston, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 1 doubles; and freshman Brock Swords and junior Zach Hewell, 6-2, 6-2, at No. 2 doubles.

The Tigers (7-4) advanced to the Sweet 16 and will play Monday at Region 3 first seed McIntosh, starting at 5 p.m.

“I’m ecstatic,” said 10th-year Harris County coach Kristy Bradley. “I think they did great.”

Then she explained.

“They played like we have been practicing to play,” she said. “They were very composed, very calm, very collected. They made smart shots, smart decisions and just basically figured their opponent out and went with it.”

The Tigers, who lost in the first round of the state playoffs last season, returned four of their seven starters this season.

“We have a lot of talent,” Bradley said.

Marion County boys

In the Class A public-school bracket, the Area 1 fourth-seeded Marion County Eagles will play at Area 4 first seed Commerce at 2 p.m. April 18.

Tracy Austin, an inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and winner of three Grand Slam titles, was in Columbus as part of Columbus State University’s Girls in the Game Advance Initiative. Here are our favorite photos of a clinic she led.

Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Mark Rice covers education and other issues related to youth. He also writes feature stories about any compelling topic. He has been reporting in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for more than a quarter-century. He welcomes your local news tips and questions.
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