Cavaliers soar to region title
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
BREMEN – The Callaway Cavaliers, after losing to Bremen during the regular season, turned the tables in Tuesday’s Region 5-AA tennis tournament and walked away with the championship.
Callaway, with its singles players leading the way, beat Bremen 3-2 to bring home the first-place trophy.
Four of the results were the same as they were the first time Callaway and Bremen played.
The one difference came at number three singles, with Matthew Martin beating Bremen’s James Cullison.
Cullison earned a one-sided win in the first meeting, but Martin won 6-2, 6-3 on Tuesday, and that victory was a critical one for the Cavaliers.
“The last time we played them, Matthew Martin lost bad. He got it handed to him,” said Callaway coach Jacob Brannen. “(Martin) used to be a doubles player for me, and he’s gotten used to playing singles.”
As for the other two singles matches, it was more of the same, with Alex Cho and Sir Michael Johnson getting it done.
Cho was injured last season and didn’t get a chance to play, and he has come back strong this spring while holding down the number one singles spot.
“We were optimistic about getting him back for the region tournament (in 2020), but he didn’t play last year,” Brannen said. “He was finally able to get back this year.”
Johnson, meanwhile, has been a key member of the lineup for the past three seasons.
In 2019 when Callaway made it to the state quarterfinals, Johnson had his team’s lone win in a loss to Thomasville.
Johnson has been nearly flawless this season, with his only loss coming in a non-region match against Central-Carroll.
“He lost to Central this year, and that was it,” Brannen said. “You’re talking about in two years, he’s probably lost one tennis match. We’re fortunate to have that.”
In doubles, Zeiki Brooks and Andreous Ionukapu fell short in the number one match, and Michael Jordan and Caden Prather lost at number two doubles.
Earlier on Tuesday, Callaway beat Heard County in the semifinals.
Callaway will host a first-round match in the state tournament next week.
Callaway’s girls’ team, meanwhile, fell to Heard County in the semifinals before losing to Haralson County in the third-place match.
Callaway unfortunately had to forfeit the number two doubles match against Haralson County because of an injured player.
The Lady Cavaliers only have seven players, so there was no one available to step in for the injured player.
While the Lady Cavaliers fell short at region, they’ve still qualified for the state tournament, and they’ll be on the road for a first-round matchup next week.
“The girls, three of my four doubles players have never played before, and they’re going to the playoffs,” Brannen said. “They’ve gotten better every week, and that’s all you can ask them to do. They work hard.”
Competing for Callaway on Tuesday were Kelly Lin (number one singles), Yujung Jang (number two singles), Kate Phillips (number three singles), Tamyra Dukes and Briana Mitchell (number one doubles) and Nancy Rosenthal and Grace