With that first meeting in mind, Thursday’s Class AAAAAA quarterfinal could have gone down to the wire again, if not for a lineup change implemented by Warriors coach Bonnie Reedy.
“The first time we played (Kennesaw Mountain) was close,” North Cobb singles ace Jaryd Reese said. “We dropped both doubles lines. But we made a change in our doubles lineup shortly after that, and those guys have been playing well ever since.”
That doubles change is still paying off well.
The No. 1 tandem of Jake Tuchmann and Ronak Mody joined with the No. 2 team of Bradford Lahmann and Jacob Hightower to spur the host Warriors to a 3-0 victory Thursday.
Lahmann and Hightower were off the court first following a 6-1, 6-3 win over Kennesaw Mountain’s Michael and Ryan Deatrick.
Reese then gave North Cobb a 2-0 advantage with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Aaron Barris at No. 1 singles, and Tuchmann and Mody clinched the match with their 6-1, 6-3 victory over Matt Gainey and Justin Thomas.
The win vaulted Region 4AAAAAA champion North Cobb (20-1) into the state semifinals for the second straight season, where it will face Region 7AAAAAA champion Peachtree Ridge — which beat Walton to prevent another all-Cobb matchup — next week.
“This was a huge win for us,” Reedy said. “We knew it would be tough. It was tight the first time we played (Kennesaw Mountain), and we talked before the match about how serious this was going to be.
“It’s unbelievable to be in the final four again. We made it to the second round twice and broke through that last year, so to be here again is unbelievable.”
North Cobb didn’t lose any of its starters from a year ago, so expectations were high entering the season. Reedy was glad to see the team perform as well as it did last year, especially with the influx of new talent.
“We were a solid team last year,” she said. “Now, with two freshmen in the lineup this year, I’m glad we were able to duplicate last year’s success, but now we need to try to go even further.”
Reese, a senior and four-year starter, has been a big part of North Cobb’s rise to state prominence, and he knew getting past Kennesaw Mountain (19-5) wouldn’t be easy.
“They came in pulling two upsets already in the playoffs,” he said, “so we knew they were playing well. But when we’re at the top of our game, we know it’s difficult to beat us.
“Beating a great team like Kennesaw Mountain gives us confidence. I think we’re playing our best tennis of the year.”
Neither coach wanted to risk injury to their players, so they halted the match once a winner was determined. North Cobb’s Rohman Mitchell led Matt Osajima 3-1 at No. 3 singles, while the Warriors’ Andre Canino and Mustangs’ Joe Klokow split their first two sets 6-3, 2-6 and were tied 1-all in the third when play was suspended.
“This was our first appearance in the state quarterfinals coming into (Thursday) and our margin for error was very slim,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Philip Matthews said. “We needed (North Cobb) to have a bad day, but it didn’t happen. They’re just playing so well right now that they were tough to beat.
“This doesn’t put a damper on our season, though. We had a great season. We set a school record for wins with 19 and made it to the quarterfinals for the first time. It was great to be part of this group of guys and accomplish what we were able to accomplish.”