Just three days after getting over the quarterfinal hurdle, the Carrollton High School boys' tennis team took care of the Class AAAA semifinals and will not compete for the state championship.
The Trojans battled the elements and North Oconee and came away with a 3-1 victory to ensure a trip to the Clayton County International Park Tennis Center on Saturday. A weather delay may have forced Carrollton to wait a little longer, but the return to the state championship is still just as sweet.
"It was a very good feeling. It was a very back-and-forth match. We had gotten two lines finished and were one win away at [No.] 2 doubles and it rained," Carrollton head coach Ryan Scroggin said. "We had some match points, lost those match points and lost the set, so they ended up having to go to the third set. But they were able to come back and win the third set."
No. 1 single Carver Arant picked up the first win of the Trojans with a 6-1, 6-0 victory to get off the court quickly. No. 1 doubles Ross Martin and Samuel Campbell put Carrollton up 2-0 with a 7-5, 6-0.
That's when the rain came.
In a test that involved the first road contest of the playoffs, a quality opponent and the elements, the Trojans passed all three phases.
"It feels good. The kids were very excited. It was an odd situation with the rain and being on the road for a playoff match. They had a good crowd there, but we had a lot of parents who were very supportive of the kids. All the kids played well," Scroggin said.
Kane Caldwell lost the first set, but came back to win the second set and was up 3-2 in the third set before getting pulled with the match in hand at No. 2 singles. The lone loss came at No. 3 singles, as Connor Best dropped a 4-6, 4-6 match in a closely contested battle of similar styles.
"[Best] played very well. He and the kid he played against were very similar players. He lost, but he played well and lost to a good player," Scroggin said.
The clinching score for the No. 2 doubles team was 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.
The win sets up a battle against two-time defending state champion Marist following its 3-0 victory against North Hall on Monday. Marist knocked Carrollton out of last year's tournament in the quarterfinals in a 3-2 thriller and the Trojans will be looking forward to the rematch.
"I feel like we're definitely the underdogs, but I think we're going to go in there and give Marist all they want. I think the kids are hungry. We played them last year and lost a close one. Both teams have about the same kids. Of course, the kids are in different spots in the lineup this year," Scroggin said. "I think it's going to be a very good match. I think we're going to have a good showing."
The Class AAAA teams are scheduled to report to the courts at the Clayton Tennis Center at 12:15 p.m. Saturday where they will start as soon as a group of four courts are available. The two teams will put No. 1 singles, No. 2 singles, No. 1 doubles and No. 2 doubles on the courts with the No. 3 singles match starting as soon as the first match is completed.
Even though this group of Trojans has not competed at this level, Scroggin believes his team is up to the task.
"It's going to be interesting to see. We have not been there, there will be a big crowd. I've actually gone and spectated before and it can be overwhelming with so many people watching. We've had some good, big crowds this year at home," Scroggin said. "I think the kids will handle it well, as long as they worry about what's going on in the fence and not what's going on outside the fence."
Story by Jordon Hofeditz
Photos by Melaine Boyd and Kim Campbell
Reprinted from Times-Georgian