It’s gotten really simple and predictable over the last several years – the calendar turns to April, and Calhoun’s girls and boys tennis teams each win a region title.
The Lady Jackets and Jackets continued their impressive streaks on Wednesday as they each earned 6-AAA crowns with wins in the region tournament finals. For the Calhoun girls, it is their 12th straight region championship, and for the Calhoun boys, it’s their sixth straight.
The Lady Jackets (16-2) accomplished the feat by defeating Bremen in the Region 6-AAA finals by a 3-2 score as they swept the three singles spots in rather quick fashion to clinch it. Bremen went on to sweep the doubles points with No. 2 doubles coming down to a third-set tiebreaker, but the result was already decided for Calhoun. Calhoun co-head coach Robin Proffitt said the girls accomplished one of their main goals and hope to continue the momentum into the Class AAA State Tournament next week where they will open first-round play at home as a No. 1 seed.
“It’s always one of our first goals to win the region, and there’s a pressure to keep the streak going but our team always rises to the occasion,” said Proffitt. “The girls always feel confident, but they don’t underestimate their opponent. They came out ready today and did a really good job of staying focused and playing good, smart tennis. We were definitely ready to play today. There are still some things I’ve seen that we need to work on, but I think we are seeing more improvement every practice. I think we have a good shot to make a deep run in the state tournament. We’ve got to take one match at a time and stay focused on playing our best and we can do it.”
Carly Briggs earned the first point for the Lady Jackets as she made quick work of her opponent at No. 1 singles, winning 6-0, 6-0, and Emma King followed shortly thereafter with a win at No. 2 singles, losing only one game herself with a 6-0, 6-1 victory. Jalen Holland had the clincher at No. 3 singles as she took her match in two sets as well, 6-2, 6-0.
Bremen’s No. 1 doubles team of Rachel Forrister and Gracie Walker earned the Lady Devils first point by winning their match, and the No. 2 doubles match also went to Bremen with the team of Ali Newland and Molly Ewing defeating Calhoun’s duo of Molly Mashburn and Emma Blackstock in a back and forth match. Mashburn and Blackstock took the first set 6-1, but Newland and Ewing rallied to take the second set 6-4. With the team result already decided, the pairs played a 10-point tiebreaker to decide the match with Bremen eventually earning a 12-9 advantage.
The Calhoun boys (15-4) earned a 4-1 victory in their finals contest against Murray County with points coming from No. 1 and No. 3 singles and No. 1 and No. 2 doubles. Calhoun co-head coach Brian Proffitt said he was proud of the way his team responded to the challenge not just on Wednesday but all season. One of our goals every year is to win region, but we I knew it would be tougher this year,” said Brian Proffitt. “Bremen and Murray County are really good teams, and our whole region was better. I told the guys when we started practice in January that we were going to have X’s on our back as we would be defending our title. They used that as fuel to work and do whatever they had to do to keep this region title streak going, and winning never gets old.
“At the beginning of the season, we struggled a bit, but we’ve gotten better since then. We came out of Spring Break and went right into the region tournament, and I think our kids seeing some of the upsets definitely got their attention. It showed them that anything can happen. But we were able to get a couple wins yesterday to get to the finals, and we came out today and I thought we played our best overall match of this whole year. The guys looked at peace warming up and confident but not cocky. The four wins we got came because they were patient and played our style. It was a really good performance.”
Matthew McCanless gave the Jackets their first win of the match at No. 3 singles, taking it 6-1, 6-1. The No. 1 doubles duo of Matthew Turner and Hunter Hartsfield put the Jackets on the verge of clinching the region title with a 6-3, 6-2 victory, and Coen Marcus put things away with a 6-2, 6-2 victory at No. 1 singles. Despite the result already being decided, the No. 2 doubles team of Rucker Reeves and Dawson Williams got another point thanks to a 7-5, 6-3 victory. Murray County’s lone win came at No. 2 singles from Tucker Hemphill who defeated Calhoun’s Luke McKenzie 6-2, 6-4 despite McKenzie’s gritty effort to rally in the second set.
“If this team plays the way we played today, we can make a deep run in the state tournament,” said Brian Proffitt of the Calhoun boys. “Having the chance to host the first round is huge especially against the region we’re matched up against. You don’t have to travel and worry about all those different factors. I have confidence in this team, and if we continue to play as a team, we can make a deep run.”
Robin Proffitt echoed that confidence about the girl’s outlook for the state tournament.
“I think the girls have a really good shot at making a run,” said Robin Proffitt. “We’ve been in championship settings and big matches over the past few years so they are familiar with that feeling and are hungry for it. We want to make this run special, but we have to keep working and take one day, one practice and one match at a time. We’ve got to stay focused on achieving one goal at a time.”
Both Calhoun teams will open the Class AAA State Tournament as the No. 1 seed from 6-AAA and host the No. 4 seed from Region 5-AAA sometime next week with the date and time to be announced. The No. 4 seed in 5-AAA in both girls and boys is Stone Mountain.
In action from the opening day of the Region 6-AAA Tournament on Tuesday:
Calhoun girls, boys advance to finals, Sonoraville teams eliminated
The Calhoun girls and boys each set themselves up for a region finals showdown with a pair of wins on Tuesday on the opening day of the Region 6-AAA Tournament while Sonoraville’s girls and boys suffered season-ending losses.
The Lady Jackets (15-2) defeated North Murray in the first round 5-0 and then took down Murray County in the semifinals 4-1. Carly Briggs (No. 1 singles), Emma King (No. 2 singles), Jalen Holland (No. 3 singles) and Molly Mashburn and Emma Blackstock (No. 2 doubles) all earned two wins on the day, and the No. 1 doubles team of Neeley Abernathy and Rachel Frankenberger got one win.
The Calhoun boys (14-4) advanced to the finals by defeating Coahulla Creek in the opening round 5-0 and continuing the dominant run with a 5-0 victory in the semifinals over Ringgold. In singles, Coen Marcus (No. 1), Luke McKenzie (No. 2) and Matthew McCanless (No. 3) all swept both of their matches for the day, and the No. 1 doubles team of Matthew Turner and Hunter Hartsfield and the No. 2 doubles team of Rucker Reeves and Dawson Williams each earned a pair of victories as well.
The Sonoraville boys (10-5) and Sonoraville girls (6-9) both saw their seasons come to an end with tough losses in the first round on Tuesday. The Phoenix, the No. 4 seed, lost a tight match to Ringgold, and the Lady Phoenix, the No. 6 seed fell to Haralson County.