The Rockdale girls tennis team is headed back to the state playoffs.
The No. 2 seed Bulldogs defeated No. 3 seed Habersham Central 3-1 Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Region 8-AAAA Tournament at Madison County High School, clinching a spot in the Class AAAA state tournament for the second consecutive season.
Summer Walker got things started at No. 1 singles with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Nicole Parrish, and No. 3 singles Cierra Chesser defeated Taiya Harris 6-1, 6-0. The Bulldogs finished off the quarterfinal win with the No. 2 doubles team of Libby and Abby Bradford knocking off Kelsie Nipper and Bree Waldrip 6-0, 6-0.
"You never take it for granted," Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing said of qualifying for the state tournament. "I told the girls, 'Today is the most important match of the year.' The girls really responded."
Two other county teams --the Rockdale boys and Heritage girls -- joined the Rockdale girls in qualifying for the state tournament. In boys play, No. 1 seed Rockdale had no trouble with Apalachee, winning 3-0 over the No. 4 seed. Shoman Kasbekar and Patrick Sanders each won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively, while the No. 1 doubles team of Jason Lauritsen and Trey Hull won 6-1, 6-0.
The top-seeded Heritage girls, trying to win their fourth consecutive region championship, got their latest run off to a good start, defeating No. 5 seed Loganville 3-0. Alix Maloney and Kaylee Humphries picked up 6-0, 6-0 victories at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively, and the No. 2 doubles team (Fran Murry and Devon McLaurin) won 6-1, 6-1.
In another quarterfinal match, the No. 2 seed Heritage boys were upset by No. 3 seed Winder-Barrow, 3-0.
Both Rockdale teams and the Heritage girls will play in today's semifinals, beginning at 8:30 a.m.