Lady Rams finish second in 2-AAAAA tennis
Newton boys earn No. 3 seed

McDONOUGH - The Newton girls tennis team fell in the championship match of the Region 2-AAAAA tournament, while the Newton boys took third Wednesday at Richard Craig Park.

Newton's Bryant Miller played the sets of the season, winning both in tie breakers to give the Rams a 3-2 win over Stephenson and a third-place finish in Region 2-AAAAA.

The Lady Rams dropped a 4-1 decision to Union Grove in the championship match.

With the boys teams tied 2-2, Miller, who plays at No. 3 singles, had the chance to close the match early leading 5-2. But Stephenson's Lonnie Ervin was not about to give up, even after losing the first set 7-6, 7-2 in the tie breaker.

The match went to deuce three times before Ervin won the point.

Ervin came back to tie the match at 5-5 before Miller won again to gain a 6-5 edge.

"I was thinking that I had to relax a little bit; I also got cramps. But I relaxed and came back," Miller said. "I had to get him back from last time we played, he won."

It looked like Ervin was going to repeat history winning again after tying the sets at 6-6.

With the score tied 5-5 in the tie breaker, Ervin made it 6-5 after Miller hit the ball long, but, in the end, Miller charged back strong winning the final three points to win the match.

"Whenever it comes down to the final match like that, you have everyone cheering for one guy, that's what tennis is all about. I don't think there's anything like it in sports, where one point can change the whole match," Newton boys coach Andrew Clink said. "When Bryant pulled out a win in the first set with a tie breaker, I was pretty sure we were going to win it."

Mark DeAlva, at No. 2 singles, put Newton in the lead with a quick 6-2, 6-3 win over Harvey Conleiff.

But Stephenson made its move to take a 2-1 lead winning both doubles matches.

The No. 1 team of Malcolm Strong and David Wilson defeated Donnovan White and Adam Page 6-2, 6-2, while Brandon Hill and Ephesian Tisdale beat Ayite Baxter and Miles George 6-1, 6-2.

Shortly after losing the lead, Newton came back and tied the game at 2-2 with a 6-2, 6-2 win by Tyler Gose at No. 1 singles.

Gose was losing to Stephenson's Malik Falconer early in the first set, but Gose's aggressive play began wearing Falconer down. Eventually, Falconer started to get frustrated and tired, giving Gose the advantage.

"When Tyler came back and won his first set I knew we had a good shot at winning," Clink said. "That's where I was hoping to win it. Our three singles have been carrying us all year."

In first round action on Tuesday, Newton defeated Lithonia 3-2 before losing to Union Grove 5-0.

The Lady Rams had some good points and kept things close, but unfortunately there were not enough of those moments.

One of those good points came at No. 1 doubles.

Losing the first set 6-3, Stephanie Cronan and Holly Springer came back to take the next two sets 6-3, 6-3, giving the Newton girls their only win.

"The biggest surprise was No. 1 doubles. As I was watching, they were behind and everyone else was up. Ironically, they were the ones to pull through and that was wonderful," Newton girls coach Jackie Mattison said. "It showed me that those girls were determined and they have a spirit to play and play hard and come back. They knew that it's not over until it's over."

Union Grove took the lead when Jazzmine Jordan subdued Ashley Gunter 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.

After Rhiannon Long and Courtney Reagan fought hard in their 6-4 loss to Toni Griswold and Imani Herring at No. 2 doubles, Union Grove won the second set 6-1 to give Union Grove a 2-0 lead.

At No. 1 singles, Newton's Kierstie Moon took Hawley Emanuele to the brink several times before dropping the first set 6-4. The same could not be said in the second set as Emanuele won it 6-1, giving Union Grove the win and the region championship.

"Even though we were the second seed going in, I really anticipated winning first, it would've been nice. I thought we had an equal chance of winning first," Mattison said. "We started out strong, the matches were close but in the end Union Grove just pulled through."

After getting the win at No. 1 doubles, Erinn Lewis-Faupel lost to Tori McHenry 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 at No. 2 singles.

In Tuesday's first round action, Newton rolled over Redan 5-0 before beating down Luella 4-1.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.