The Calhoun boys tennis team had a long day on Wednesday, but the end result was well worth the wait.
The Jackets were scheduled to host Hart County at 5:30 on Wednesday in the first round of the Class AAA State Tournament, but the match was delayed due to a wrong turn by the Bulldogs bus forcing the match to start closer to 8 p.m. Despite the wait, Calhoun came out focused and took care of business in dominant fashion to earn a 5-0 victory and advance to the second round.
The Jackets (18-1) will now face Appling County in the second round with the day and time of the match to be announced.
Calhoun coach Brian Proffitt said he was a little worried about what kind of mindset his team would have in the match after sitting around over two hours past the original scheduled start time, but he was proud of the way they handled it.
“My biggest concern before the match was the intensity level following the wait, but that’s honestly the best I’ve seen them focused all season,” said Proffitt. “The long delay really didn’t seem to bother us at all, and the boys came out ready to play.”
Calhoun got up one set quickly in all five matches, losing just one game combined. They didn’t let up either, sweeping all five points in two sets.
“I told each line after they won the first set, that the first few games of the second set would be key,” said Proffitt. “I wanted them to keep their foot on the gas pedal, and they did that. I think by far this was our most complete match we’ve played all year.”
Earning singles wins were Cameron LeBoeuf at No. 1 (6-0, 6-1), Coen Marcus at No. 2 (6-0, 6-0) and Luke McKenzie at No. 3 (6-1, 6-2).
The Jackets were even more dominant in the two doubles matches as both teams won by a 6-0, 6-0 score. Earning the victories were the No. 1 team of Matthew Turner and Aaron Lively and the No. 2 team of Rucker Reeves and Hunter Hartsfield.
Despite more than a week layoff after the Jackets’ run to a region tournament title along with the delayed start on Wednesday, the team continued the momentum they’ve built over the past few weeks of the season as they continue their aim of a deep run in the state tournament.
Proffitt said he was proud of the way his team performed in their first-round win, but they will have to continue to improve and take their game to another level as the state tournament advances.
“I told them after the match tonight that this is just Step 1, and it’s going to get tougher every round,” said Proffitt. “We’ve got to expect to get the best from our opponent each round so we need to come out with the same intensity level as tonight. We’ll go back to work tomorrow at practice and get ready for the next challenge.”
The Jackets could equal their run to the Elite Eight last season with a win in the second round, and they are aiming to make a run all the way to the Class AAA finals, which they went to in 2015.