DALTON, Ga. - Losing their first two matches in the quarterfinals of the Region 7-AAA tournament Wednesday, the Dalton girls' tennis team was in danger of not advancing to the state playoffs for the first time in coach David Hilley's eight years as head coach.
Thanks to the efforts of their doubles' teams and senior Makala Awad, that won't be the case.
Awad outlasted Cedartown's Valerie DeWandel in three sets in the day's final match, giving the Lady Catamounts a 3-2 victory over the Lady Bulldogs and setting them up today for a semifinal match against sixth-ranked Allatoona at Lakeshore Tennis Courts in Dalton.
"I thought we really stepped up big," Hilley said. "We didn't play great, but I'll take a 3-2 win."
LaFayette also won their quarterfinal match, defeating Murray County 3-1. The Lady Ramblers will battle seventh-ranked Cartersville, who defeated Ringgold 3-0 in another quarterfinal.
Dalton and Heritage's boys' teams advanced to the semifinals, with the Catamounts defeating Cedartown 3-0 and the Generals defeating Murray County 3-0. Dalton will face Allatoona today in a 10 a.m. semifinal, while Heritage will battle Cartersville.
"We were a top seed last year, so it was a lot harder to advance this time around," Heritage coach Darren Miller said. "I was glad we were able to get the win."
LaFayette coach Clint Harrison's team got wins from Madeline Ensley and Bailey Clements, while the No. 1 doubles team of Kelly Jones and Lindsey Hannah dropped their first set before win 6-0, 6-3 in the final two.
"I thought we looked pretty good against a strong Murray County team," Harrison said. "It looked pretty dark when we lost the first set in doubles, but we fought throught and looked good at the end.
"I'm proud of my girls."
The Calhoun tennis teams both won the Region 7-AA tournament Wednesday at Calhoun Recreation Center. The Class AA second-ranked Lady Yellow Jackets defeated Pepperell 5-0, but the boys' team had a harder time, yet were able to outlast Model 3-2.
The No. 1 doubles team of Ben Lamb and Adam Griffith claimed the decisive victory for the Yellow Jackets.
"This was huge for us," Calhoun coach Lynn Davis said. "Our girls have been consistent all year, but for our boys to get this win was big because all of their matches were close."