LaGrange advances in state tournament
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Add another winning chapter to what has been a spectacular season for the LaGrange High girls’ tennis team.
With Wednesday’s home win over Thomas County Central, LaGrange has advanced to the final eight of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
The Lady Grangers (17-3 overall) have won the Jekyll Jam, the Granger Invitational, the Region 2-AAAA tournament, and now a match in the state playoffs.
It has already been one of the finest seasons in the history of an ultra-successful program, and the work isn’t done.
LaGrange will play either North Oconee or Cedartown in the third round, with a spot in the state semifinals on the line.
“It’s been a really good ride,” said LaGrange head coach Kenny Moore. “We lost three matches, and all three matches were in a 24-hour period. We lost two here after losing to Columbus. That’s it. It’s just been a fun year.”
LaGrange had no problems with Thomas County Central, which beat Perry in the first round.
LaGrange won all three singles matches and both doubles matches, and none of those matches were competitive.
Sydney Edelson, Annie Pauley and Adeline Lanier won in singles, and the doubles teams of Ella Eiland and Wone Mi Oh, and Maddie Nolen and Sophie Nix also prevailed.
At number one doubles, Eiland and Oh eased to a 6-0, 6-0 win over Emmaraye Smith and Samantha Jennings.
The two seniors have been doubles teammates all season, and they’ve been a dynamic duo.
One of their most noteworthy wins came in the region-championship match against Columbus.
After losing in the regular-season matchup with Columbus, Eiland and Oh bounced back to win the rematch in the region tournament.
LaGrange beat Columbus 3-2, so the win by Eiland and Oh was critical.
“We knew what we were going into, because we lost awful (the first time)” Eiland said. “We were more aggressive at the net than they were.”
After the loss to Columbus, the two spent a lot of time at the tennis center, hitting hundreds of tennis balls in preparation for the rematch.
“We dusted it off the ball machine, and we made them hit a million volleys, and they embraced it,” Moore said.
Oh was LaGrange’s number one singles player the past few seasons, but she made the transition to doubles this spring, and she and Eiland have been together since day one.
Although they haven’t played doubles together before, they’re both seniors and have been teammates for four years, and they have undeniable chemistry on the court.
“It’s way more fun when you’re playing with somebody you like,” Eiland said.
Nolen and Nix have been getting it done at number two doubles throughout the season, and they were up to the challenge on Wednesday, beating Loxley Slocumb and Jacey Keyton 6-0, 6-0.
The story was the same in singles, with LaGrange winning all three matches easily.
Edelson beat Chaligh Scudder 6-1, 6-0 at number one singles, Pauley overwhelmed Allie Bellamy 6-0, 6-1 at number two singles, and Lanier eased past Claire Pope 6-1, 6-2 at number three singles.
Whatever happens in the next round and possibly beyond, it has already been a memorable season for LaGrange.
“Winning Jekyll, winning the Granger Invitational, and region, I don’t remember the last time a girls’ tennis team has won all three,” said Eiland, one of three seniors on the team along with Oh and Pauley. “I don’t know if it’s ever happened. And the last time the girls won region was like in 2013. We have a great team.”