April 25, 2014

Dalton girls, boys tennis lose to Marist in 4A

Dalton High School tennis coach David Hilley didn’t have the pleasure of going out a winner, but he made it clear that his time leading the Catamounts and Lady Cats has been nothing but a pleasure.

Playing in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament Thursday at Atlanta’s Marist School, the Cats lost 4-0 and the Lady Cats fell 3-0 to bring their seasons to an end.

It also marked the last matches at the helm for Hilley, who took over the programs in 2003 and has led both teams to an appearance in the state playoffs each season since then. A math teacher, he decided to step down from coaching to have more time for family, but will continue to work at the school.

Asked what he’ll remember most about coaching tennis at Dalton, he said it’s “the community.”

“Honestly, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “I’ve coached other places, but you just don’t understand the parent support you get from people in the community (at Dalton). We have people who come back whose kids played 10 years ago. They watch us play and they still donate money.

“Some programs, their kids graduate and they don’t have anything to do with the program. Not Dalton.”

Hilley finished with 313 total wins at Dalton — he was unsure of the loss total off the top of his head — and this year’s teams, both of whom finished as the runner-up in Region 7-4A, helped him hit the 300 mark. The Cats went 16-6, while the Lady Cats were 11-11 despite what Hilley considered a tough schedule for an inexperienced group of girls when it came to varsity tennis.

“I think they both came together as a team,” Hilley said. “I had a lot of guys back but lost several girls (to graduation in 2013). But they bonded really well and they became good teammates. That’s what you want them to be. They would stay and cheer each other on. It’s nice going out that these are the two teams I got to coach this year.”

Hilley led both programs as deep as the quarterfinals during his tenure, with the Cats advancing to that point his first season and the Lady Cats doing so twice, including last season.

This year, it was a familiar foe that brought the run to a halt one day after both teams beat LaGrange in the opening round. Marist — which has won 12 boys state championships and 21 girls state championships — has often been the end point for even his best Dalton teams over the years, Hilley said.

“We never did get it right so they were on the other side of the bracket, but it is what it is,” he said. “You’ve got to beat everybody.”

Marist swept the Region 6 championships this season. Their girls will face the winner of Carollton and Lanier in the Class 4A quarterfinals, while their boys will face either Columbus or Madison County.

In Thursday’s girls match, Marist got two wins at singles — No. 1 Jenna Kane beat Chandler Renz, 6-0, 6-0, and No. 2 Elizabeth Gould beat Anna Grace Wilson, 6-1, 6-0 — and won at No. 1 doubles as Mary Kate Weeks and Marielle Williams beat Caroline Calfee and Mackenzie Creswell, 6-1, 6-2.

In the No. 3 singles match, Marist’s Caitlin Hubbard was leading Olivia Dinges 5-1 when the overall team win was clinched. In the No. 2 doubles match, Marist’s Leigh Peters and Anna Swinson were leading Shelby Fromm and Mary Margaret Snipes 6-3, 2-1.

In the boys match, Marist swept doubles as No. 1 Grant Kelly and Chase Krouskos beat Will Alderman and Ryan Harper, 6-2, 6-3, and No. 2 Chris Bertani and Eric Thompson defeated Thomas DeLay and Sam Dyer, 6-3, 6-3.

In singles, No. 1 Kyle Ferrer beat Jacob Johnson, 6-0, 6-1, and No. 2 Jefferson Dockter beat Shazman Ali, 6-1, 7-5. At No. 3, Marist’s Brandon Price won the first set 6-2 against Nathan Bryant.

Hilley said looking back he’ll remember that “the kids were great” at Dalton.

“I’ve had some great players and great kids,” he said. “Those relationships are what I cherish the most. Not the wins, and most definitely not the losses.”

• At the Area 4-A boys tournament championship in Kennesaw, Christian Heritage lost 3-0 to host Mount Paran Christian.

The Lions (9-5) dropped the No. 1 and 2 doubles matches and No. 3 singles match.

As the region’s runner-up, Christian Heritage will host a Class A private school state tournament first-round match at Dalton Golf and Country Club next week against Providence Christian. Lions coach Laurie McEntire said a day and time haven’t been set, but first-round matches for that tournament must be completed by Tuesday, according to the bracket at the Georgia High School Association’s website, ghsa.net.

“I feel like I have a good team, a good group of boys this year,” McEntire said. “We started a little rocky (this) season. We’re playing well right now. Mount Paran has a good group of boys and are strong throughout the lineup. I usually can depend on my doubles courts to pull out one win, but it didn’t go our way this time.”

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