First-round waltz
Heritage cruises past North Springs 4-1

CONYERS - The Heritage boys tennis team needed only 40 minutes to take care of business in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs Thursday.

The Patriots (17-5) rolled off three easy victories over North Springs and then finished the remaining two, chalking up a 4-1 victory.

"We knew what we were up against coming into the match, so we figured if we played well, we'd be OK," Heritage coach Chuck Landy said. "Our guys came out, got the job done and got off the court, and that's what we ask them to do."

Heritage's senior doubles quartet of Blake Craft, Brad Hardin, J.J. Ramsey and Jacob Zirbel set the tone.

Craft and Hardin put Heritage up 1-0 with a 6-0, 6-1 victory at No. 1 doubles. Moments later, Ramsey and Zirbel made it 2-0 with another 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 2 doubles.

"Blake and Brad played well, J.J. and Jacob were strong," Landy said. "I think as we go further and further (in the playoffs) they are going to be the key for us. We've got to count on those four guys to go out and win four matches for us, then we've got to find a way to win another one somewhere along the way.

"They're our older guys and they've been with us a long time. They're the ones we're counting on right now."

Zach Landy wrapped up the victory with a 6-0, 6-2 victory at No. 2 singles.

Jonathan Stone added a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 1 singles, while Cody Provence dropped a 6-0, 6-2 decision at No. 3 singles.

The Patriots will host Cherokee in the second round of the state tournament either Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Last year, Heritage beat Cherokee 3-0 in the first round of the state tournament. The Warriors, the No. 2 seed from Region 5-AAAA, beat Ringgold 3-0 in their first-round match.

"We played them last year and they were competitive. We did win, but, like us, they have six guys coming back, so we know they're going to be pretty good," Landy said. "We're down to 16 teams now, so everybody left is going to be pretty good. Each week is going to get tougher and tougher. We're looking forward to it, it's going to be fun. Like I've said, whatever happens we have to go out, fight hard and find a way to win three matches against them."

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.