Looking Back: Mary Lynne Cumiskey reflects on Brookstone tennis complex opening
Five local tennis teams played matches Monday in the Georgia High School Association state playoffs. Here’s how they did:
After losing 3-2 to Walker in last season’s final round, the Brookstone girls intend to be at least one point better with all the starters back this season.
As the Area 1 first seed in the 16-team Class A private-school bracket, they are off to a super start with a 3-0 victory Monday at home over Area 4 fourth seed Mount Pisgah.
“My girls shed a lot of tears last year when you lose a match like that,” said Brookstone coach Mary Lynne Cumiskey, who has led the Cougars to 12 state championships (most recently in 2017) and is in her 39th season. “They’re definitely on a mission. They’ve been thinking about this since last spring. So we’re trying to get that title back.”
Winning their matches Monday were senior Gracie Hemmings, 6-0, 6-0, at No. 1 singles; sophomore Mattie Albright, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 3 singles; and junior Mary Stewart Mullin and sophomore Maria Eckstein 6-0, 6-0, at No. 2 doubles.
Hemmings and Albright “just played beautiful tennis today,” Cumiskey said. “They didn’t make any mistakes, and they were very confident in their strokes and placed the ball very well.”
Mullin and Eckstein “were a very aggressive group,” Cumiskey said, “but, at the same time, they were very consistent. They’re smart players. They poach at the right time, and they try to hit down the alley at the right time. They work together extremely well.”
Brookstone advanced to the Elite Eight and will play at home Thursday against Providence Christian, starting at noon.
One of their No. 1 doubles players couldn’t play because of a stomach virus, so the Columbus Blue Devils needed a reserve to step up her game.
Sherry Aschenbach did indeed.
In her first playoff match, the junior teamed with senior Kindra Woodman to win 6-2, 6-0, as the Region 1 first-seeded Blue Devils beat Region 3 third seed Mary Persons 4-0 Monday at Lakebottom in the Class AAAA Sweet 16.
“She did fabulous under pressure,” Columbus coach MikelAnna Hill said of Aschenbach. “It was some of the best tennis I’ve seen her play.”
Also winning matches Monday for Columbus were senior Mary Weston Courville, 6-1, 6-1, at No. 1 singles; senior Sydney McRae, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 2 singles; and sophomore Kelsey Human and senior Lexi Grier, 6-1, 6-2, at No. 2 doubles.
“My girls came to play today,” Hill said. “They left no doubt on the courts. It was good to see that fire.”
That fire looks like this:
“Aggressive,” Hill said. “A lot of times, it’s easy to get relaxed on the court and be willing to play not to lose. But today, they played to win. They were aggressive at the net and hitting their shots with power like they should.”
The Blue Devils advanced to the Elite Eight and will play at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Lakebottom against Region 5 second seed LaGrange.
The Region 1 first-seeded Columbus boys won 4-0 Monday at Lakebottom against Region 3 third seed Mary Persons in the Class AAAA Sweet 16.
The Blue Devils advanced to the Elite Eight and will play Region 6 first seed Flowery Branch or Region 8 third seed St. Pius at a time, date and location unavailable before this story’s deadline.
Winning matches Monday for Columbus were: senior Harrison Brown, 6-3, 6-0, at No. 1 singles; sophomore William Holden, 6-0, 6-1, at No. 2 singles; senior Raymond Peebles and junior Julian Watts, 6-1, 6-2, at No. 1 doubles; and senior Tyler Hanson and sophomore Akash Shan, 6-0, 6-0, at No. 2 singles.
The Region 1 second-seeded Northside girls lost 3-0 Monday at Region 2 first seed West Laurens in the Class AAAA second round (Sweet 16).
“We played close at one and two singles and had a chance at two doubles, but we came up short,” said Northside coach Hunter Davis. “The kids played well, but the pressure of the situation seemed to make them a little tense. West Laurens played really well and came to win.”
Looking ahead to next season, Davis added, “Hopefully next year will be another strong year for us as we are only losing one senior off of this year’s team.”
Harris County boys
In the Class AAAAA Sweet 16, the Region 1 third-seeded Harris County boys lost 5-0 Monday at Region 3 first seed McIntosh.
“They fought hard at this match,” said Harris County coach Kristy Bradley. “Our No. 1 singles, Gabe Davidson, was out sick for several weeks, so others played out of position.”
Despite ending the season with a shutout loss, Bradley expressed optimism about next year.
“The doubles really improved as the season progressed,” she said. “We will return four starters next season.”