Heritage sweeps region tennis titles
Last April, the Heritage Generals could only watch their female counterparts celebrate a region championship as they lost in the finals to Gilmer by a 3-0 count.
This past Wednesday morning in Dalton, the Generals once again watched their female counterparts claim the 6-AAAA title, and then went out and earned their own measure of revenge.
The top-seeded Lady Generals made quick work of second-seeded Gilmer, 3-0, to win a second straight Region 6-AAAA championship before the Generals rallied to beat the Bobcats, 3-2, to give the Navy-and-Red two pieces of hardware to take back home.
After beating Northwest Whitfield, 3-0, in last Tuesday’s semifinals, the topseeded Generals fell behind the secondseeded Bobcats, 1-0, when Davis Kilgo dropped a 6-1, 6-4 decision at No. 3 singles, but the Generals’ No. 2 doubles duo of Ethan Bone and senior Blake Richardson tied things up with a 6-3, 6-0 victory.
Heritage’s No. 1 doubles team of Cooper Terry and senior Nick Darling lost in three sets, 7-6, 1-6, 6-1, putting Gilmer one point from the championship.
It didn’t look promising for the Navyand-Red as senior Tim Grayson fell behind 5-1 in the opening set at No. 2 singles. However, Grayson would turn it around to win the set, 7-6, and tied up the match with a 6-2 victory in the second set.
It all would come down to another Heritage senior, No. 1 singles player Leo Peace, who split the first two sets of his match, winning 6-3 and losing 6-4. But Peace would come through for the Generals with a 6-2 win in the decisive third set to give Heritage an 8-0 record in region play and the school’s second-ever region championship.
“This was probably the most exciting match of my 20 years of coaching,” head coach Darren Miller said. “I’m very proud of the way the guys played today and throughout this entire season. I was impressed with the way all my seniors played in the championship match.”
Heritage’s seniors were non-starting freshmen on the Generals’ first region title team in 2015, but Miller said they were the reason that Heritage would be hosting in the first round of the state tournament this time around.
“I’m so proud of my team, but mostly (proud of) my seniors, especially Leo and Tim for giving us the wins today,” Miller added. “What a way for them to finish their high school careers. I’m in awe of those guys, and Blake Richardson just played awesome doubles.”
There was much less drama on the girls’ side as top-seeded Heritage rolled to a sweep.
Fresh off a 3-0 sweep of Pickens in their semifinal match, the Lady Generals got a 6-0, 6-2 win by Caroline Horsley at No. 1 singles. The team of Katelyn Burns and Erin Hulsey claimed a 6-2, 6-0 win at No. 1 doubles before Morgan Phillips and Bailey Christol put the championship on ice with a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
Emma Lokey was leading 6-1, 5-0 when the match was stopped and Maleah McAlister won the first set 6-1 and was tied 4-4 in the second set when play was halted.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” head coach Jeff Green said. “They’ve worked really hard this year and it’s paid off with their second region title. Coming off last year’s Elite Eight run, we definitely had high expectations for this season and we’ve now accomplished two of our goals. We’re excited to be hosting at state again this year. This is great group of girls and they’ve definitely put Heritage on the tennis map in the state of Georgia. I couldn’t be more proud.”
The Lady Generals, like the Generals, are now 12-1 on the season.
Heritage’s boys were scheduled to host Chapel Hill at 2 p.m. and Heritage’s girls were slated to host Cedartown at 4 p.m. on Tuesday (April 17) in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament.