Nine local teams – Johns Creek’s boys, Cambridge’s girls, Woodward’s boys, Lovett's boys, Pace's girls and the boys’ and girls’ squads from Marist and Westminster – each brought home state titles from the Georgia High School Association (GHSA)’s state tennis championships May 8 at the Rome Tennis Center in Rome.
Two boys’ teams (Johns Creek and Westminster) and three girls’ squads (Marist, Westminster and Pace) did not lose an individual match throughout the tournament. It was the first state competition since 2019 after the previous season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the Class 7A boys’ tournament, Alpharetta lost to eventual champion North Gwinnett 3-0 in the semifinals. The Raiders advanced to the semis with wins over Mountain View (3-0), West Forsyth (3-1) and Walton (3-0) in the first three rounds. In the first round, Campbell lost to North Cobb 3-1 and Milton lost to Peachtree Ridge 3-2.
In girls’ action, Walton won the title and Alpharetta fell to Lambert 3-0 in the semifinals. The Raiders reached the semis with 3-0 wins each against Peachtree Ridge, Dunwoody and North Cobb in the first three rounds. Milton fell to Lambert 3-0 in the second round after beating Mill Creek 3-1 in the first. Also in the first round, Roswell fell to North Gwinnett 3-2 and Campbell lost to Hillgrove 3-0.
In the 6A boys’ tournament, Johns Creek took the title with a 3-0 win over rival Cambridge in the championship match. The Gladiators advanced to the finals with 3-0 victories against Kell, Rome, Valdosta and Chattahoochee in the first four rounds.
The Bears reached the championship round with wins over Wheeler (3-0), Buford (3-1), Lakeside of DeKalb (3-0) and Carrollton (3-1). Chattahoochee advanced to the semifinals with victories against Pope (3-0), Lanier (3-0) and North Atlanta (3-2). North Atlanta beat Northside of Warner Robins (3-0) and Glynn Academy (5-0) in the first two rounds. Centennial beat Lassiter 3-0 in the first round before falling to Carrollton 3-1 in the second.
In girls’ action, the same rivals advanced to the championship round, but this time Cambridge beat Johns Creek 3-0. The Bears reached the title match with wins over Allatoona (3-0), Rome (5-0), Valdosta (3-0) and North Atlanta (3-2) in the first four rounds, and the Gladiators moved to the finals with victories against Pope (3-0), Carrollton (3-0), Lakeside of Evans (3-0) and Centennial (3-1) in the first four.
“It feels incredible to win state,” Cambridge girls’ coach Hannah Hudson said. “These girls work so hard all year long, and their opportunity at a state championship run was stripped away from them last year (due to the pandemic). But that made this year that much sweeter! I can’t think of a group more deserving of a state champion title than the Cambridge Lady Bears.”
Centennial reached the semis with wins over Kennesaw Mountain (4-0), Buford (3-0) and Lakeside of DeKalb (4-0) in the first three rounds, and North Atlanta moved to the final four with victories against Northside of Warner Robins (3-0), South Effingham (3-0) and Chattahoochee (5-0). Chattahoochee advanced to the quarterfinals with wins over Lassiter (3-2) and Dalton (4-0).
In the 5A boys’ tournament, Woodward won the crown with a 3-0 win over Grady in the title match. The War Eagles advanced to the finals with triumphs against Whitewater (4-0), Wayne County (5-0), St. Pius X (4-0) and North Springs (4-0).
“Our motto this year was ‘Burn to Rise’ with the idea of a phoenix – a War Eagle – rising from the ashes of the 2020 cancelled season and the pandemic and the many mental, physical and emotional struggles that it created throughout the year,” Woodward boys’ coach George Westlund said. “Rising to win the state championship after such a tumultuous year is a credit to this team's perseverance, resiliency, integrity, determination and fortitude. I am proud of each and every one of these young men."
North Springs reached the semis by beating Calhoun (4-1), Decatur (4-0) and McIntosh (3-2). St. Pius advanced to the quarterfinals with wins over Clarke Central (5-0) and Blessed Trinity (4-0), and Blessed Trinity defeated Chapel Hill 4-1 before being eliminated. Northview blanked Loganville 3-0 in the first round before falling to Cartersville 3-2 in the second.
In girls’ action, Northview finished second to McIntosh, which won the title with a 3-2 victory. The Titans reached the finals with wins over Clarke Central (4-0), Calhoun (4-0), Coffee (3-0) and Grady (3-1) in the first four rounds. Woodward fell to McIntosh 3-1 in the semifinals after beating Harris County (3-0), Veterans (4-1) and Chamblee (3-2) in the first three rounds.
St. Pius fell to Grady 3-2 in the second round after beating Loganville 3-0 in the first. Also in the second round, Blessed Trinity lost to Greenbriar 5-0 after defeating North Springs 3-1 in the first.
In the 4A boys’ tournament, Marist took the title with a 3-1 win over North Oconee. The War Eagles advanced to the championship round win victories against Heritage of Catoosa County (4-0), Flowery Branch (3-0), Columbus (3-0) and Madison County (3-0).
“The varsity boys played for each other and they were determined to get to the finish line together – Amen!” said Marist boys’ coach Tommy Marshall, who is also the school’s athletic director and is retiring this year.
In girls’ action, Marist made it a clean sweep with another win over North Oconee (this time 3-0) in the championship match. The War Eagles advanced to the title round with wins over Pickens (4-0), Flowery Branch (4-0), Columbus (3-0) and Bainbridge (3-0) in the first four rounds.
In the 3A boys’ tournament, Westminster won the crown with a 3-0 victory over Greater Atlanta Christian in the championship round. The Wildcats advanced to the title match with wins over Franklin County (5-0), Gilmer (5-0), Pierce County (5-0) and Oconee County (3-0) in the first four rounds.
In girls’ action, Westminster made it a clean sweep with another 3-0 win over Greater Atlanta Christian in the title match. The Wildcats reached the finals with wins over East Jackson (3-0), Rockmart (5-0), Appling County (5-0) and Oconee County (3-0) in the first four rounds.
In the 2A boys’ tournament, Lovett took the championship with a 3-1 win over rival Pace in the title match. The Lions advanced to the championship round with 5-0 victories each against Fannin County, Rabun County, Early County and Model in the first four rounds. The Knights reached the finals with wins over Chattooga (5-0), Banks County (5-0), Bacon County (5-0) and Bleckley County (3-0).
“Winning state is an incredible feeling,” Lovett boys’ coach Ricky Davis said. “We had some injuries and had to deal with players being quarantine so we did not play many matches with a full squad. We were able to get everyone together at the end. It was special to see the teamsmanship develop throughout the season. This ended up being our teams' strength.
In girls’ action, the same rivals advanced to the championship round, but this time Pace beat Lovett 3-0 in the championship match. In the first four rounds, the Knights beat Chattooga (5-0), Rabun County (4-0), Davidson Arts (3-0) and Berrien (4-0) in the first four rounds, and the Lions defeated Dade County (4-0), Banks County (5-0), Early County (3-0) and Bleckley County (3-0).
“It was very special to win the championship this year, especially since we didn't have the opportunity to defend our title from 2019 last season,” Pace girls’ coach Matt Marsico said, referring to the fact that most of the 2020 season was cancelled due to the pandemic. “We had a great group of five seniors that led the team, and some terrific underclassmen that will be returning next year.”
In the 1A Private boys’ tournament, Wesleyan won the crown with a 3-1 victory over Stratford in the championship match. The Wolves advanced to the finals with wins over Athens Christian (5-0), Darlington (3-0), Deerfield-Windsor (3-0) and Landmark Christian (3-0) in the first four rounds.
In the quarterfinals, Atlanta International fell to Paideia 3-0 after beating George Walton 3-0 and Weber 4-1 in the first two rounds. Weber won against Walker 3-2 in the first round.
Holy Innocents’ lost to Mount Paran 3-1 in the second round after defeating Prince Avenue Christian 5-0 in the first, and Whitefield fell to Stratford 3-0 in the second round after receiving a bye in the first and
Also, in the first round, Galloway fell to Athens Academy 3-0 and Mount Pisgah lost to North Cobb Christian 3-2.
In girls’ action, First Presbyterian won the title, and Wesleyan fell to Mount Paran 3-2 in the semifinals. The Wolves whipped Athens Academy, Christian Heritage and Deerfield-Windsor each by a 3-0 score in the first three rounds.
In the second round, Whitefield fell to Brookstone 3-0 after edging Aquinas 3-2 in the first round, Mount Vernon lost to Darlington 3-2 after nipping King’s Ridge 3-2 in the first and Holy Innocents’ fell to Walker 3-1 after blanking Tallulah Falls 3-0 in the first. Mount Pisgah lost to Mount Paran 3-2 in the first round.