JONESBORO, Ga. -- While the Whitefield Academy boys were on the tennis courts in full celebration mode, Brookstone coach Jim East had his boys huddled together on the nearby walkway. He patted each one on the shoulder, looked them in the eyes and spoke words of encouragement, trying to ease the pain of a loss in the final of the Class A championships.
The Cougars had fallen short of winning its first state championship since 2005, losing to Whitefield Academy 3-1 at the Clayton County International Park Tennis Center. Brookstone had reached the final with a 3-0 win over Athens Academy.
The Brookstone girls lost their semifinal match against defending championship Mt. Pisgah, which went on to beat Wesleyan in the championship.
"We've been getting to the semifinals, but we've been jinxed as far as getting to the final," East said. It was the first final appearance for the boys since 2006, although they were making their 10th straight trip to the semifinals. "It was nice to get back there."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Ledger-Enquirer
Once there the Cougars ran up against stiff competition. The only win for Brookstone in the championship round came from No. 3 singles player George Keough, who defeated Whitefield's Robby Keough 7-6, 6-2.
The other matches were equally well played. The No. 1 doubles team of Joo-Yeok Lee and Jonathan Dreelin lost a tough three-set match to Matt Landry and Cole Enright 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, an outcome which sealed the championship for Whitfield. That victory also meant Baran Baris was not able to finish his No. 2 singles match with Matt McGill, a contest that had gone into a third set.
"This was really important for
our young men to get this far," East said. "The other thing was important for us to represent our city. It's great that our seniors (Adams and Lee) got a reward for four years of hard work."
Brookstone (18-3) won both its doubles matches in the semifinal against Athens Academy, as the Cougars beat the Spartans for the second time this year. The No. 1 team of Lee and Dreelin scored a 6-4, 6-0 win over T.J. Sterrenberg and Robert Slocumbe and the No. 2 team of Trey Thorne and Sahil Arora had a 6-1, 7-5 win over Nathan Iyer and Will Seagraves. Baris got the lone needed singles win at No. 2, beat Houston Gaines 6-3, 6-1.
"This has been a team that's been very calm and very strong," East said. "It's a team that's played within itself. And it's really a team that represents our city; about 75 percent of this team grew up on the city courts. It's a city-made team."
Brookstone's girls (12-7) had a fierce match with Wesleyan, but was unable to prevail in singles or doubles. The final knockout came when Henssey Ngo lost a lengthy 7-5, 6-3 decision to Megan Kelly at No. 1 singles.
"It was a hard-fought match," said Brookstone coach Mary Lynne Cumiskey. "They battled for every point. We didn't win, but it's not like we were off the court in 40 minutes. Overall, I'm very pleased."
It's the 12th consecutive season that Brookstone's girls have reached the semifinals, but the Cougars haven't played for the title since 2009.
Brookstone 3, Athens Academy 0
No. 1: George Adams (B) def. Houston Gaines 6-3, 6-1.
No. 1: Joo-Yeok Lee/Jonathan Dreelin (B) def. T.J. Sterrenberg/Robert Slocumbe 6-4, 6-0; No. 2: Trey Thorne/Sahil Arora (B) def. Nathan Iyer/Will Seagraves 6-1, 7-5.
Whitefield Academy 3, Brookstone 1
No. 1: Kyle Childree (W) def. Kazuki Onoe 6-1, 6-3; No. 2: Adams (B) def. Robby Keough 7-6, 6-2.
No. 1: Matt Landry/Cole Enright (W) def. Lee/Dreelin 6-2, 3-6, 6-1; No. 2: Tommy Keough/Bennett Shilling (W) def. Thorne/Arora 6-3, 6-2.
Wesleyan 3, Brookstone 0
No. 1: Megan Kelly (W) def. Henssey Ngo (B) 7-5, 6-3; No. 2: Savannah Strickland (W) def. Avery Hudson (B) 6-3, 6-3.
No. 1: Katie Van Laeke/Katie McLaughlin (W) def. Hendley Badcock/Rosie Jeffery(B) 7-5, 6-1.