It all fell on the shoulders of a freshman.
And with the season on the line, Matthew Harvey rallied from a first-set loss to capture a three-hour marathon match at No. 2 singles and ship the Carrollton High School boys' tennis team on to the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals on Wednesday evening.
With the No. 1 Trojans in a nail-biter against No. 3 Decatur in the second-round showdown, Harvey's 6-7, 6-4, 6-2 triumph proved to be the difference in the 3-2 victory after Carrollton had raced out to a 2-0 advantage behind wins at No. 1 doubles and No. 3 singles.
But with the Bulldogs prevailing at No. 1 singles and No. 2 doubles, it put the onus on Harvey, who had just come back to win the second set when the other two lines ended, leaving all eyes and all the pressure on one court.
Carrollton head coach Ryan Scroggin praised his young talent for the poise he displayed, especially going up against a senior across the net from Decatur.
"Obviously, the other kid had a lot more experience. But after they split the first two sets Matthew said, 'I haven't kept you out here this long for nothing,'" Scroggin said. "So I'm very proud of him for keeping his focus and he was able to pull it out."
Carrollton rolled to a pair of quick wins behind Ross Martin and Will Brown at No. 1 doubles in a 6-3, 6-2 decision and Harrison Rogers at No. 3 singles finished up shortly there after with a 6-2, 6-2 victory, setting the stage for a nerve-wracking finish.
After Noah Kamishlian and Nicholas Hawkins fell in a 3-6, 6-3, 3-6 battle at No. 2 doubles, Aidan Coleman's rally came up short at No. 1 singles in a 2-6, 7-5, 2-6 setback for the 2-2 tie, leading to Harvey's heroics.
Wednesday's match marked yet another highlight for this young crew that only features one holdover in the lineup from last year's state runner-up squad in Martin.
Scroggin said his young team continues to defy the odds and simply won't settle for any moral victories at this point.
Carrollton is now set for a state finals rematch against fellow top seed Starr's Mill in the quarterfinal round on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Following the universal coin flip by the GHSA on Wednesday, the top of the bracket will host the elite eight if the two teams are the same seed, meaning the match will be held in Carrollton.
Although it is a rematch of the state championship from last spring, neither team is dealing with the same personnel. Even so, Scroggin understands what his squad is up against in the Panthers, who won a 4-1 decision over Wayne County in the second round.
"They're young. Their No. 1 is a kid that played line 2 last year and he's a very strong player. I don't know a whole lot about them. I saw them in Chattanooga. They were playing beside us, but I didn't really see a whole lot because I was worried about our team," Scroggin said. "They won their region and beat McIntosh, which McIntosh is another strong team this year that's still alive. But I don't think our kids are going to lay down. Our kids weren't ready to finish (Wednesday). Everything now is really just a bonus. I couldn't be more proud of this group of boys."