Knights the last one alive in tennis
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
April 30, 2014 04:01 AM | 974 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ben VanHout has been one of the singles aces for River Ridge, the last of the Cherokee County tennis teams still in the state playoffs.
<BR>Staff file photo
Ben VanHout has been one of the singles aces for River Ridge, the last of the Cherokee County tennis teams still in the state playoffs.
Staff file photo
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The River Ridge boys are the last team standing as the state playoffs continue in tennis.

Cherokee County qualified five teams to the first round of the state playoffs, with four advancing into the second round. The second round was completed Tuesday when the Etowah boys fell to Alpharetta, 3-1, leaving the Knights as the only local team still playing.

River Ridge will travel to Carrollton on Thursday for a 4 p.m. match in the Class AAAA state quarterfinals.

River Ridge, in the quarterfinals for the first time, was the No. 1 seed out of Region 7AAAA after going undefeated through the regular season and at the region tournament. Carrollton is also a No. 1 seed, so the host was determined by a coin flip, with Carrollton winning.

Coach Lynn Freeman said she is excited to see what the Knights can do, but she’s concerned about how her young squad will perform on the road.

“We have a young team, so we were really hoping for home-court advantage,” Freeman said. “Really, we are just excited making it this far. It’s our first year.”

River Ridge features Ben VanHout, Clay McIntyre and Jake Hicks in singles play. Grayson Chumley and A.J. Joyner play No. 1 doubles, while Matt Polley and Gabe Mims play No. 2.

Etowah’s boys and girls teams narrowly missed out in the Class AAAAAA state quarterfinals.

The boys fell to Alpharetta 3-1 on Tuesday night, though coach Don Hurlburt said it was hard to be disappointed. The Eagles had trailed Norcross 2-0 in the first round, only to rally for a 3-2 victory.

Against Alpharetta, they were aiming for a similar story line.

“Line 2 (doubles) was oh so close to tying up the match,” Hurlburt said. “Great effort from the Eagles.”

In the match with Alpharetta, both the No. 1 and No. 2 singles players lost. Though the No. 1 doubles team of Jake Pollack and Taylor Barie earned a point with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 win, the No. 2 team of Eric Matthews and Austin Stark suffered a narrow 7-6, 7-5 defeat.

The Etowah girls lost 3-2 to Chattahoochee. The Lady Eagles earned points from No. 2 singles player Sam Kaczaral and the No. 2 doubles team of Ailsa Cruickshank and Keegan Castel, but they lost at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles.

“It came down to the last line on the courts — No. 3 singles,” Etowah girls coach Billie Morgan said. “It was a battle, but we just couldn’t pull it out.”

The Sequoyah girls, which easily defeated North Pauling 3-0 in the first round, was edged by Gainesville on Monday in a 3-2 loss.

The Lady Chiefs, a No. 3 seed, won at North Paulding with No. 2 singles Morgan Dodd, No. 3 singles Montana Gilbert and the No. 1 doubles team of Sydney Webb and Sophia Levantis winning their matches in little more than an hour.

Sequoyah wasn’t as fortunate against Gainesville. Gilbert won her match 6-0, 6-0, as did Taylor Dodd at No. 1 singles, but Gainesville’s Katherine Wright got the best of Morgan Dodd, winning 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 at No. 2 singles.

The Woodstock girls, the final county team to reach the state playoffs, were eliminated in the first round, with a 3-1 loss to Mill Creek.
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