Girls tennis: North Atlanta breaks through to win elusive state championship

The North Atlanta girls won the 2022 GHSA Class 6A championship.

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The North Atlanta girls won the 2022 GHSA Class 6A championship.

Walton’s dominance continues as eight champions are crowned

Rome, Ga. -- The gratification was obvious on the faces of the North Atlanta girls tennis team. After being so close for the last four years, the Warriors finally picked up the big prize by winning the Class 6A championship at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College.

North Atlanta reached the semifinals in 2019, had the season cancelled in 2020 – amidst an undefeated season -- because of COVID and got to the Final Four again in 2021. But on a sunny Saturday in Rome, coach Mike Hutchings team beat Centennial 3-0 in the championship game.

North Atlanta got wins from Sydney Brantley at No. 2 singles and the doubles teams of Francie Coleman and Rebie Benedict at No. 1 and Isabel Carter and Samantha Fleming at No. 2 doubles. Leeza Kurtz at No. 1 singles and Alexandra Kazamias were ahead but not able to finish their match.

North Atlanta is the second Atlanta Public School team to win a state championship and the first in one of the higher divisions.

“This means a lot,” said Kurtz, one of four seniors in the starting lineup. “This our four year now and we’ve gotten super close every year. It feels amazing to be able to come out here and take it home and win that trophy and go down in history.”

North Atlanta has 80 players in a developmental league he helped put together many years ago in the middle school.

“It kind of evolved from there and, I don’t know if you noticed, but there are a bunch of teams here that their kids live in our district,” Hutchings said.

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The Northview girls won the 2022 GHSA Class 5A tennis championship

Credit: Stan Awtrey

The Northview girls won the 2022 GHSA Class 5A tennis championship

Credit: Stan Awtrey

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The Northview girls won the 2022 GHSA Class 5A tennis championship

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Class 5A – Northview 3, Chamblee 0: Northview won its first championship since 2018 and its first under coach Staci Kelly. It was the third time it has beaten Chamblee this season.

The starting lineup for the Titans featured Victoria Guagnelli at No. 1, Elizabeth Ziabtchenko at No. 2, Hasini Gollampalli at No. 3, Poorvi Iyer and Jayne Siebold at No. 1 doubles and Swathi Munuganandan and Sruthi Yerraguntia at No. 2 doubles.

Northview lost only two players from last year’s team that reached the championship match. The Titans thrive on depth, which has paid off in the playoffs.

“I expected to be back,” Kelly said. “I could have put any of the 10 we have on the team in the doubles positions. It was really a tough call for me.”

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Wesleyan High School won the 2022 GHSA Class A Private championship.

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Wesleyan High School won the 2022 GHSA Class A Private championship.

Credit: Stan Awtrey

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Wesleyan High School won the 2022 GHSA Class A Private championship.

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Northview should be strong again next season. Kelly only graduates the Ziabtchenko at No. 2 and returns six juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.

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Wesleyan High School won the 2022 GHSA Class A Private championship.

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Wesleyan High School won the 2022 GHSA Class A Private championship.

Credit: Stan Awtrey

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Wesleyan High School won the 2022 GHSA Class A Private championship.

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Class A Private: Wesleyan 3, George Walton 0: The young Wolves, with two freshmen in the starting lineup, outslugged George Walton in the final match to be completed in the morning.

“We really had to grind it out,” said Wesleyan coach Jonathan Sykes. “There were a lot of long points where we had to kind of outlast them a little bit. We like if we could get one more ball then we had the advantage.”

Sykes had high expectations when the season began and was confident his girls would prevail in the final match.

“We really felt like we could beat anybody,” he said. “We beefed up our lineup at No. 2 singles and No. 2 doubles. That gave the rest of our lineup confidence from top to bottom.”

Starting for Wesleyan were Sophia Gibbs at No. 1, Lauren Tucker at No. 2, Livi Stolle at No. 3, Tinsley Bertram and Katherine Scott at No. 1 doubles and Caroline Scott and Olivia Noel at No. 2 doubles.

In the other championship matches:

Class 7A – Walton 3, Alpharetta 0: The Raiders retained ownership of the championship for the second straight season and 23rd time. Members of the winning team were Hayden Mulberry at No. 1, Grace Keller at No. 2 and Amala Arun at No. 3, Catherine Dierker and Abigail Morgan at No. 1 doubles and Natalie Kirka and Mary Ashley Jacoppo at No. 2 doubles.

Class 4A – Marist 3, LaGrange 0: The War Eagles defended their championship for first-year head coach Jose Gregory. with a quick victory. Marist girls in the lineup were Anya Nelson at No. 1, Sabritt Dozier at No. 2 and Gabrielle Marshall at No. 3, Lucy Kalbas and Isabella Ferrer at No. 1 doubles and Claudia Derazi and Lauren Parker at No. 2.

Class 3A – Westminster 3, Oconee County 0: The Wildcats defended their title and won for the fourth time in five competitions. The Wildcats, coached by Liesel Good, were made up of Ann Wright Guerry at No. 1, Ashley Piedad at No. 2 and Shea Petit at No. 3, Allie Gryboski and Cydney Day at No. 1 doubles and Chiara Krishna-Reddy and Kelly Sanchez at No. 2 doubles.

Class 2A – Pace Academy 3, Lovett 0: The Knights won their third straight state championship by beating their Region 6 rival. The Pace lineup fielded by coach Mathew Marsico, featured Caitlyn Pinsker at No. 1, Caleigh Pinsker at No. 2, Claire Jiang at No. 3, and Hannah Genser and Kate Jonas at No. 1 doubles and Brooke Brumfield and Sarah Proctor at No. 2 doubles. Uma Graz, who normally plays on the No. 1 doubles team, had a family emergency and could not play.

Class A Public – Telfair County 3, Trion 1: Telfair County won its third straight state championship and first for coach Heather Cowart, a Telfair graduate who once played on the school’s team. Telfair’s lineup had Beth Murphy at No. 1 singles, Sophie Cook at No. 2, Mia Reese at No. 3, Jada Hilliard and Madison Lockamy at No. 1 doubles and Cassie Taylor and Marcie Floyd at No. 2.

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