Historic win for Callaway

Published 2:00 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2019


Daily News

There are eight teams left standing in the Class AA boys’ state tennis tournament, and Callaway is one of them.

Callaway made that a reality by beating Gordon Central on Monday afternoon in the second round of the state tournament.

Callaway, which has advanced this far for the first time in the history of the program, will visit Thomasville on Thursday with a trip to the semifinals on the line.

“I heard that this is the first time Callaway has made it past the second round,” said Sir-Michael Johnson, Callaway’s number three singles player. “I’m proud. I’m real happy to be a part of that.”

Callaway, which finished second in Region 5-AA to Bremen, beat Rabun County in the first round to set up the second-round showdown with Gordon Central.

Alex Cho, Henry Seonwoo and Sir-Michael Johnson won the singles matches, giving the Cavaliers the three points they needed to secure the team win.

Callaway’s Austin Ozley and Jared Nation lost a close one at number one doubles, but the outcome had already been decided.

Callaway’s number two doubles team of Matthew Martin and Jayvon Nunley played an abbreviated set that didn’t count toward the team total.

“I’m proud of myself, and my team for advancing to the round of eight,” said Henry Seonwoo, Callaway’s number two singles player. “Last year, we lost. We practiced better than last year, and we’ve come out with good results.”

Alex Cho, Callaway’s outstanding number one singles player, had no trouble with his opponent, easing to a 6-2, 6-3 victory.

The story was the same at number three singles, with Sir-Michael Johnson winning 6-4, 6-3. Johnson has been a rock at the number three singles position all season.

“Mike, his only losses have been to Bremen,” Callaway coach Jacob Brannen said. “He’s been there match in and match out for us all year. Alex (Cho) is so good, to be so young, but we have to give Mike the credit.”

With two victories in the bag, the Cavaliers needed to win one more match to secure their trip to the quarterfinals.

Henry Seonwoo earned the decisive victory, and he had to work for it.

Seonwoo dropped the first set 6-2, but he rallied to win the next two sets 6-0 and 6-2, making sure the day would belong to Callaway.

“I’m really proud of myself for coming back from losing the first set,” Seonwoo said. “I came back and won the second and third. I’m proud for not giving up, and giving my best. I think it paid off.”

At number one doubles, Austin Ozley and Jared Nation won the first set in a tie-breaker, and they dropped the set 6-2.

The third set went to another tie-breaker, and Gordon Central prevailed to earn its lone win.

Matthew Martin and Jayvon Nunley didn’t get onto the court at all in the first round, so they at least got the chance to play one set against Gordon Central.

Now, Callaway is one step away from a trip to the semifinals, and standing in the way is a Thomasville team that has beaten Harlem and Bacon County to reach this point.

“At practice, it can be the best kid practicing against the worst kid, and it doesn’t matter to them,” Brannen said. “They just work hard. They do their part, and me and Drew (Cantrell) try to do our part.”

Brannen and Cantrell were tennis teammates in high school at Hawkinsville, and now along with coach April Bunn they’ve helped Callaway’s tennis program make history.

“We’ve been talking about (coaching together) for years,” said Cantrell, who played tennis at LaGrange College. “We’ve known each other our whole lives. We finally got a chance to do it, and it’s going pretty well so far.”

Brannen is appreciative of what Cantrell has done for the team.

“He does it for free, too,” Brannen said. “He gives his time. We wouldn’t have been as successful as we’ve been without him.”