Dalton High School’s tennis teams were the only ones among six local squads in the Region 7-4A tournament to survive Wednesday’s opening day of action at Lakeshore Park in Dalton.
The Catamounts and Lady Cats weren’t really challenged, either.
Dalton won both of its matches 3-0, with the boys defeating Northwest Whitfield and the girls ousting Gilmer as both teams secured berths in the Class 4A state tournament, which starts next week. The boys and girls teams for Northwest and Southeast Whitfield’s boys all finished a round shy of the semifinals, meaning their seasons are finished, while Southeast’s girls also lost their only match at the tournament.
The Dalton squads entered the tournament as Sub-region 7B-4A’s No. 1 seeds, so clinching state tournament spots was the first goal reached — but it’s certainly not the only one for either the Cats or Lady Cats.
The girls haven’t won a region title in five years, while the boys are in an eight-year drought. B.J. Rowland, a senior who has been with the program all four years, hopes that number doesn’t become nine today.
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve had some great teams,” he said, “but it has been a long time without a region championship.”
Dalton coach David Hilley said both teams “have to” play better today.
“We played OK,” he said. “I just didn’t think we had the intensity that we needed to have.”
Both teams face Sub-region 7A No. 2 seed Cass today in the semifinals at 10 a.m. If they win, they’ll be guaranteed of hosting at least the opening round of state; they’ll also play for the region title at 3:30 p.m. A loss means they’ll compete for third place at 2 p.m.
The other boys semifinals match is Sub-region 7A No. 1 seed River Ridge against 7B No. 2 seed Heritage-Catoosa. The second girls semifinal contest is 7A No. 1 seed Cedartown versus 7B No. 2 seed LaFayette. Both of those matches are scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
In Dalton’s boys win versus the Bruins (5-8), the Cats (13-2) took two singles matches. No. 2 Nathan Bryant and No. 3 Shazman Ali each won 6-0, 6-1 against Lane Watson and Israel Arquiza, respectively. Dalton also got a doubles victory from No. 1 Rowland and Thomas Delay, 6-1, 6-0, against Thomas Blackwell and Chris Brown.
Dalton’s No. 2 doubles team of P.K. Bhatter and Efra Usconga led 6-3, 0-2 against Cody Bourff and Blake Frankenberger when the Cats clinched the team win. Northwest’s No. 1 singles player, Jacob Fredrickson, was the only Bruin to win a set. He led Jacob Johnson 6-4, 0-1 when the match was called. Northwest was the sub-region’s No. 5 seed.
“For some reason, today, he finally started playing like he was capable of,” Bruins coach Billy White said of Fredrickson. “Sometimes he forces things. ... But when he went out there against the Dalton kid, he wore him out in the first set.”
In the girls tournament, the Lady Cats (12-3) swept singles versus Gilmer with wins from No. 1 Courtney Morton, 6-3, 6-0, No. 2 Kara Pendley, 6-0, 6-1, and No. 3 Anna Grace Wilson, 6-0, 6-1. Neither doubles match was completed, but Dalton led in each, with No. 1 Sheridan Fromm and Mackenzie Cresswell up 6-3, 2-3 and No. 2 Rachel Bakker and Caroline Calfee ahead 6-3, 1-0. Gilmer was the sub-region’s No. 4 seed.
The top three seeds from each sub-region had byes in the first round, but in earlier action Northwest’s boys won 3-2 against Sub-region 7A No. 4 seed Cedartown. The Bruins got a singles win from Fredrickson, 6-4, 6-1, plus doubles victories from Blackwell and Brown, 6-1, 6-2, and Bourff and Frankenberger, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).
Northwest’s girls, 7B’s No. 3 seed, lost 3-2 to Cass in the quarterfinals. Winners for the Lady Bruins (5-6) were No. 1 Emma Jones, 6-1, 6-1, and No. 1 Sydney Wagner and Alli Wagner, 7-5, 6-0.
Southeast’s boys, the Sub-region 7B No. 4 seed, beat Gilmer 3-0 before losing 3-0 in the quarterfinals to River Ridge.
In the win, the Raiders (3-4) were led by singles victories from No. 1 Darshan Patel, 6-2, 6-2, and No. 3 Alexis Beccera, 6-0, 6-0, plus a doubles win from No. 1 Fernando Beccera and Reuben Figueroa, 6-1, 6-0.
The Lady Raiders (1-7), the Sub-region 7B No. 5 seed, lost 3-0 to Gilmer.
In the other two boys quarterfinals matches, Cass beat LaFayette 3-0 and Heritage won by the same score against Pickens.
In the other two girls quarterfinals matches, LaFayette won 3-0 against Pickens while Cedartown won 3-0 versus River Ridge, which beat Heritage 3-0 earlier in the day to reach that round.
• Murray County girls 3, Pepperell 2: Allison Jones rallied during a tiebreaker for a 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) victory that helped the Lady Indians (11-6) win the third-place match in the Region 7-2A tournament at the Calhoun Recreation Depart-ment courts.
Jones was down 4-2 in the tiebreaker before coming back to seal her win. Mur-ray County also got a singles victory from No. 1 Gabbie Bordelon, 6-2, 6-2, and a doubles triumph from No. 1 Erica Steelman and Chloe Brown, 6-2, 6-0.
“My No. 1 and No. 2 singles have been steady this season,” said Murray County coach Becky Quast, who’s in her first season leading the program. “I would put them up against all of the top singles players in this region, because they are really good and can pretty much hold their own. They’ve shown a lot of mental toughness. ... I’ve just got some really hard-working girls who are just mentally tough.”
Seeded fourth going into the tournament, the Lady Indians clinched a state berth on Tuesday, the first day of the event, with a 3-2 opening-round victory against Model before losing 5-0 to top-seeded Armuchee. Pepperell was seeded third going into the tournament.
Murray County will travel next week for the opening round of the Class 2A state tournament. The Lady Indians will be matched up with the No. 2 finisher from Region 6, which is made up of schools in the Atlanta area.
• Dalton boys 1, Northwest 0: Antonio Martinez set up Justen Macias for the game’s lone goal as the Cats delivered some payback for their only loss of the season.
The Bruins won 2-0 the first time the teams played, but goalkeeper Samuel Fraire and Dalton’s defense kept North-west from scoring this game. The Cats ended their season with a 7-1-1 mark.