Rockdale tennis eliminated in second round

— The most successful season in the history of Rockdale High School tennis came to an end Monday. Harrison brought a pair of No. 3 seed teams to Conyers and defeated No. 1 seed Rockdale, 3-1 in both girl’s and boy’s play in the second round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.

The Bulldogs, which had each won the region championship for the first time earlier in the month, finished 15-3 in girl’s play and 17-5 in boys, while the visitors from Cobb County moved on to the state quarterfinals.

“Win or lose, we’ve shown we’re up there (as a perennial playoff team),” said Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing. “Couple years ago our goal was to make the state playoffs, now our goal is to win region…now, we’ve done that and our goal is to advance in the state playoffs. I think next year that’ll still be the goal: raising the expectations to where the kids expect to advance.”

The Rockdale boys had never won a state playoff match before last week’s first round win over Douglas County. Monday was a different story as Harrison’s no. 1 doubles team of Peter Heflin and Ben Maryland got things started with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Bruce Mitchell and Collin Shamley. Patrick Sanders pulled Rockdale even with a straight set victory over Jack Hadaway at No. 1 singles. Sanders, a junior, won handily, 6-1 in game one, then trailed 3-2 in the second game before rallying for a 6-4 win.

That turned out to be the hosts only triumph. The Hoyas’ No. 2 singles player Brad Dismukes, the team’s only senior, defeated Trey Hull, 7-5, 6-2 and the No. 2 doubles team (Lee Chadwick and Dylan Harvey) knocked off Abenet Addisu and Chris DaSilva, 6-3, 6-0.

“We’re just happy to still be in it, happy to still be playing tennis,” Harrison boy’s coach Kevin Copeland. “I told (the players) ‘our goal is one point at a time.’”

The girl’s match turned in Harrison’s favor when Meredith Frost dropped the first set to Ciara Chesser, 6-4, but rallied to win the final two sets, 7-5, 6-2. Before that, the no. 1 doubles team of Jaclyn Black and Taylor Lambertson defeated Abby Bradford and Destiny Commodore, 6-0, 7-5, and later, No. 3 singles player Wendy Jhang won 6-1, 6-0 over Aliyah Byrd to clinch the second round win.

“Meredith, she…kind of gets in grooves,” said Harrison girl’s coach Deanna Stewart. “(But) you got to give Ciara credit, she played a wonderful match. (Harrison has) worked really hard, the girls have put some time in, definitely proud of the season we’ve had.”

No. 1 singles player Summer Walker secured a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Alexis Morris for the Rockdale girl’s only win. The Bulldogs had a 15-match winning streak snapped and lost for the first time since late-February.