Rock­mart rolls

Top-seeded Jack­ets and Lady Jack­ets com­plete a re­gion ti­tle sweep at the Rome Ten­nis Cen­ter.

The Standard Journal - - SPORTS - By Jeremy Ste­wart JSte­[email protected]

The last three sea­sons have seen Rock­mart’s ten­nis teams con­sis­tently bat­tle for both re­gion and state supremacy, but they had yet to have both its boys and girls crowned re­gion cham­pi­ons.

With the help of some ex­tra em­pha­sis and se­nior lead­er­ship, that goal was met last Wed­nes­day as Rock­mart took the top hon­ors at the Re­gion 7-AA tour­na­ment at the Rome Ten­nis Cen­ter at Berry Col­lege.

It is the third year in a row that the Lady Jack­ets have claimed the re­gion ti­tle, with Rock­mart’s girls get­ting a 3-2 win over Ar­muchee in the cham­pi­onship round. The Jack­ets, mean­while, got past the Model Blue Dev­ils, whom they lost to in the re­gion fi­nals the last two sea­sons.

“I think our se­niors have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence now. They worked hard over the sum­mer and they all got bet­ter,” Rock­mart boys’

coach Barry Owen said. “This is our third year in a row play­ing (Model) in the fi­nals, so we were just de­ter­mined. Not just this sea­son, but from the end of last sea­son to to­day. That’s how we thought about it.”

The Jack­ets won the cham­pi­onship round with a 4-1 fi­nal tally, get­ting wins from No. 2 sin­gles player Timothy Malone (6-1, 6-1), No. 3 sin­gles Ben­nett Vest (6-0, 6-0), as well as the dou­bles teams of Hunter Eng­land and Eli­jah Malone (6-4, 6-4), and Dil­lon Ma­han and Gavin Tan (6-3, 6-0).

Model’s lone win came at No. 1 sin­gles as Parker Stoned topped Jack­son Nor­ris 6-2, 6-0. Nor­ris, Vest, Eng­land and both Malone broth­ers are se­niors this sea­son.

“We’re go­ing to miss them next year, but we’re not fin­ished yet,” Owen said. “We hope we can fin­ish strong this year and send them out on a high note.”

Rock­mart’s boys’ team re­mains un­de­feated this sea­son, sit­ting at 20-0 as they pre­pare to start the Class AA state play­offs next week. Both Rock­mart teams as well as Ar­muchee’s girls and Model’s boys will host the first round by fin­ish­ing in the top two in the re­gion.

Rock­mart’s girls were up 2-1 over Ar­muchee when No. 2 sin­gles player, and the Lady Jack­ets’ only se­nior, Mary Ella Owen de­feated Han­nah Del­lis 6-3, 6-1 to clinch the win for Rock­mart, which is 19-1 over­all this sea­son.

“We’ve had a good run. It’s been real fun,” Rock­mart girls’ coach Kent Mathis said. “The girls have worked real hard. The best part is now our mid­dle school team is do­ing a re­ally good job. The girls are start­ing to get lessons on their own. And it’s re­ally pay­ing off.”

Mary Ann Ear­wood picked up Rock­mart’s other sin­gles vic­tory at line No. 3 with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Chloe Purdy. Mad­die Ann Harp and Eis­ley Pope got a 6-3, 6-1 win for the Lady Jack­ets at No. 2 dou­bles.

“We lost five starters last year, so we had to re­group,” Mathis said, adding that the com­pe­ti­tion for start­ing po­si­tions was tougher this sea­son and made the team bet­ter. “But we needed five more girls to come in and help us re­group, and they did it.”

Ar­muchee’s Tay­lor Harris and Blaine Fox won at No. 1 dou­bles, 6-3, 6-1, while the No. 1 sin­gles match be­tween Ar­muchee’s Brooke Del­lis and Rock­mart’s Emma Evans was the last match to fin­ish, but only af­ter a 10-point tiebreaker af­ter each player won a set.

Brooke Del­lis pulled out the vic­tory, 6-2, 5-7 (10-7)

“She’s strong. She started strong as a fresh­man. She fin­ished strong as a se­nior,” Ar­muchee coach Mary Stu­art Ra­tledge said of Del­lis. “I couldn’t be prouder of my team and the way they played to­day. It didn’t go our way to­day, but Rock­mart is a good team and we’re just thank­ful we made it where we are. And I hope we’re both play­ing here on down the road.”

The road for the GHSA state ten­nis play­offs end at the Rome Ten­nis Cen­ter, where the state cham­pi­onships in all eight clas­si­fi­ca­tions will be held May 4.

Join­ing in on that chance to play at the lo­cal fa­cil­ity again this sea­son is the Coosa boys, who pulled off their sec­ond up­set of the re­gion tour­na­ment by pulling out a 3-2 win over Gor­don Cen­tral in the third-place match.

Af­ter top­ping Ar­muchee on Mon­day in the first day of com­pe­ti­tion, the Ea­gles had an­other three-set win from the No. 2 dou­bles team of Malachi Wilkins and Keith Gun­nells to break a 2-2 tie against the War­riors and se­cure athree-seed in the play­offs.

Model’s girls lost to Dade County 4-1 in the girls’ third-place match, giv­ing them the No. 4 seed from the re­gion. Both the Coosa boys and the Lady Blue Dev­ils will be on the road to start the state play­offs.

Jeremy Ste­wart

Rock­mart’s Timothy Malone con­nects for a re­turn dur­ing his No. 2 sin­gles match in the fi­nals of the Re­gion 7-AA ten­nis tour­na­ment Wed­nes­day at the Rome Ten­nis Cen­ter at Berry Col­lege. Rock­mart de­feated Model 4-1.

Jeremy ste­wart

left: Rock­mart’s Mary Ella Owen makes con­tact with the ball dur­ing her No. 2 sin­gles match in the fi­nals of the Re­gion 7-AA ten­nis tour­na­ment Wed­nes­day at the Rome Ten­nis Cen­ter at Berry Col­lege. right: Rock­mart’s Jack­son Nor­ris reaches for a re­turn dur­ing his No. 1 sin­gles match in the fi­nals of the Re­gion 7-AA ten­nis tour­na­ment Wed­nes­day at the Rome Ten­nis Cen­ter at Berry Col­lege.

Jeremy ste­wart

Rock­mart’s Emma Evans chases down the ball dur­ing her No. 1 sin­gles match in the fi­nals of the Re­gion 7-AA ten­nis tour­na­ment Wed­nes­day at the Rome Ten­nis Cen­ter at Berry Col­lege.

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