DANIELSVILLE - One team had an easy time capturing its third straight region championship. The other had to sweat it out for its first.
Heritage swept both the boys and girls Region 8-AAAA tennis titles Friday at Madison County High School. The boys continued their dominance over the region, while the girls picked up the first league crown in school history.
"It's great," girls coach Brian Smith said. "I'm extremely proud."
After the No. 1 (Taylor Maloney) and No. 2 (Stephanie Humphries) singles players lost their region final matches to Madison County, Heritage needed a win in each of the final three matches. That's exactly what the Patriots got as Alix Maloney defeated Audra Minish, 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 singles, and the No. 1 doubles team of Callie Alford and Amanda Voyles came back after dropping the first set 7-6 to win 6-3, 6-4. To cap the evening, the Patriots' No. 2 team (Keelie Smith and Kaylee Humphries) won the third set 6-1, setting off a raucous celebration.
"I feel like I played myself," Smith said. "It was just a battle (and) we showed some resiliency and we've got to take it into state."
The boys had an easy time taking care of Loganville in the region final, winning all five matches without dropping a set. No. 1 singles player Jonathan Stone defeated Evenguines Vinogrodov, 6-3, 6-1, while No. 2 Zachary Landy handled Tyler Gunnett, 6-1, 6-2.
By the time No. 3 Joey Rappo had finished off Drew Watson in straight sets, the Patriots were already making plans for the Class AAAA state tournament, which opens Friday at Heritage.
"These kids have worked extremely hard (and) the biggest thing is we played well," boys coach Chuck Landy said. "Every court looked good."
The doubles teams were strong as well. The No. 1 team (Frankie Merkel and Erik Lauritsen) cruised 6-0, 6-0, while the No. 2 team (Cody Provence and Trey Calcinore) won 6-1, 6-0.
"It's really satisfying," Provence said. "It's kind of amazing. If you would've told me four years ago we'd be here (as region champions for the third consecutive season), I would've told you you're crazy. (Four years ago) I could barely get the ball over the net. It feels really good."
"The two doubles played as good as they ever have," Landy added. "We talked about it - Heritage High School opened in 1976, we went 30, 31 years without a region championship. To come out and do it three years in a row. We feel great."
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.