Lady Raiders win 5AAAAA, now eye state
by Adam Carrington
acarrington@mdjonline.com
April 18, 2012 01:39 AM | 1821 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Walton’s Melissa Mashburn stretches for a return shot Tuesday against Woodstock’s Tiffany Meyers. 
<Br>Staff photo by Lindsay Fendt
Walton’s Melissa Mashburn stretches for a return shot Tuesday against Woodstock’s Tiffany Meyers.
Staff photo by Lindsay Fendt
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MARIETTA — When Walton freshman Suzanne Zenoni was called off the court Tuesday during the middle of her No. 1 singles match against Woodstock’s Nicole Nielly, she thought it was because of a rain delay.

Zenoni found out minutes later that the match was already over, and that the Lady Raiders had won 3-0 to clinch the Region 5AAAAA championship — the program’s ninth straight region title — at Marietta High School.

Zenoni had won the first set and led by a break in the second.

“I didn’t even know,” she said afterwards.

Zenoni now knows how things usually work with Walton (9-0) once the region tournament starts.

Walton’s winning streak now stands at 156 matches, with many lasting about an hour or less. The Lady Raiders haven’t lost a match since losing to Chattahoochee in the 2003 state quarterfinals.

Woodstock (13-4), seeded No. 3 in the region, made it to the tournament finals for the first time in its history by upsetting No. 2 seed Lassiter in the semifinals.

But the young Walton team under pressure to preserve the program’s record-setting winning streak came through once again.

“It was great. We played really well,” Zenoni said. “We wanted to go out there, play our best and have fun.”

Walton’s doubles teams both came away straight-set victories, and Melissa Mashburn came through with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Woodstock’s Tiffany Meyers at No. 2 singles — after losing to Meyers during the regular season.

Walton coach Christy Page said earlier this week that one of the keys to Walton beating Woodstock was how Mashburn would respond against Meyers. Mashburn succeeded, serving well through the entire match and kept unforced errors to a minimum.

“Melissa came out strong,” Page said. “She played one of the best matches I’ve seen her play.”

The Walton doubles teams cruised in their first sets before Woodstock’s duos battled in the second set.

Jessica Cramer and Katie Riley won the clinching match 6-1, 6-4 at No. 1 doubles after trailing 3-0 in the second.

“We lost focus a little bit when we realized we were down 3-0,” Riley said. “We had to settle down and get back into it, and it worked.”

Woodstock was winning most of the extended points earlier in the second set, but Cramer and Riley started shortening points again by poaching the net. They won six of their last seven games to clinch the match.

Erica Bauer and Emily Harte won 6-0, 6-3 at No. 2 doubles, but they had to adjust to Woodstock’s aggressive net play at the beginning of the second set. Once they did, they won four straight games to win the second set — and the match — after trailing 3-2.

“I have to give Walton credit,” Woodstock coach Jeff Townsend said. “Our girls battled, made good adjustments in the second set and thought they would take it. Unfortunately, they fell short.”

Zenoni broke Nielly’s serve early in the first set, winning 6-4, and she broke serve again to start the second set when the match was called.

Johanna Keeline was leading Nielly’s younger sister, Lauren, 7-5 3-0 at No. 3 singles. Keeline was trailing 5-4 in the first set before winning five straight games.

Lassiter’s consolation match against Etowah for the region’s No. 3 seed was postponed to today because of inclement weather. The Lady Trojans will host.
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