The Lady Raiders, who had the longest winning streak in Georgia high school history of 158 snapped two years ago, appear to be a stronger team than they were last year when they returned from a one-year hiatus to win their ninth state championship in the last 10 years.
Bella Kuse joined the team this season after she was home-schooled last year and has made an impact at singles. She’s currently playing No. 1 singles with Suzanne Zenoni and Johanna Keeline playing No. 2 and No. 3.
Freshman twin sisters Emily and Grace Gaskins have solidified themselves at No. 2 doubles alongside Katie Riley and Jessica Cramer, who have yet to lose a set at No. 1 doubles in their third year as partners.
Walton will play Johns Creek in the Class AAAAAA state quarterfinals, but since they are both No. 1 seeds from their respective regions, they will flip a coin to see who will host the match.
“Bella has been great,” Walton coach Kristy Lewis said of her new No. 1 singles addition. “She anchors a strong singles lineup and has pulled off some awesome wins.”
If things fall correctly, Walton could meet Kennesaw Mountain in the semifinals. The Lady Mustangs are also stacked at singles behind Samantha Armas and Nicole Croxton and both doubles teams has strengthened since last season.
Kennesaw Mountain will either host either North Cobb or Newnan in the quarterfinals. The Lady Warriors’ match Monday was suspended because of weather with the score tied 2-2 and the final match going into a third set tiebreaker.
If North Cobb wins, all four Region 4AAAAAA teams would play one another in the Class AAAAAA state quarterfinals. Hillgrove or Harrison will battle each other for a spot in the semifinals.
The Region 5AAAAAA champion Lassiter boys are in the AAAAAA quarterfinals along with North Cobb, Hillgrove and Harrison of Region 4AAAAAA.
Lassiter squeezed out a 3-2 win over Chattahoochee in the second round. Christopher Yun needed three-sets to win his No. 2 singles match. Lassiter coach Wylie Brown said he dropped the second set after trying to win points on one shot before renewing his focus in the third and prevailing 6-1.
“His drop shot wasn’t working in the second set,” Brown said. “He needed to get out of that second set and was as focused as I’ve seen in the third set.”
Lassiter will now host Johns Creek in the quarterfinals and North Cobb and Harrison will play one another.
Hillgrove will be hosting Colquitt County for the right to advance to its first state semifinal. Henry Squires at No. 2 singles and Davis Adams and Joey Chase at No. 1 doubles led Hillgrove to a 4-1 win over Coffee in the second round.
Both Allatoona teams are in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals and Northview stands in the way of both teams. Pope is also in the AAAAA boys quarterfinals for the first time since winning state in 2011 and will face Cambridge.
In the Class A private school bracket, the Mount Paran Christian boys advanced to the quarterfinals and will host Holy Innocents this week and the Whitefield Academy girls are also in the quarters and will host Pace Academy.
STATE TENNIS PLAYOFFS
Harrison at North Cobb
Lassiter vs. Johns Creek
Colquitt County at Hillgrove
Allatoona vs. Northview*
Cambridge at Pope
at Mount Paran Christian
at Kennesaw Mountain
Walton vs. Johns Creek*
Harrison at Hillgrove
Allatoona vs. Northview*
at Pace Academy
* TEAMS MUST FLIP A COIN TO DETERMINE HOME COURT
ALL MATCHES MUST BE COMPLETED BY SATURDAY