Boys tennis roundup: Lambert prevails, four teams repeat

Credit: Johns Creek High School

Credit: Johns Creek High School

Coach Eric Hampton is hopeful his Lambert boys tennis team just realized what it accomplished. By beating rival West Forsyth in the Class 7A title game, the Longhorns won their first state championship since 2017 and did it in the state’s highest classification.

“I hope the guys realize how bit it is,” Hampton said. “I’ve tried to express that to them. This doesn’t happen every year. It’s not easy to be the best team in the state at the highest level. And they are -- without question.”

Hampton noted that the current seniors were in the sixth grade the last team the Longhorns won a state championship. Now the program has become one of Georgia’s elite.

“This is the bests team we’ve had in the 14 years I’ve been here,” Hampton said. “From top to bottom, depth wise, it was great ... and it’s going to be even better next year.”

Lambert beat West Forsyth 3-0 in the final after getting a sweep from its three singles player -- No. 1 Aidan Atwood, No. 2 Srihan Jairam and No. 3 Chetan Challa. The doubles teams -- No. 1 Bahuliya Manyapu and four-year starter Rithvik Suram and No. 2 Alex Dua and Suren Vakalapudi did not complete their matches.

Atwood, a junior who has committed to Georgia, has not lost a region match in three years.

“And he loves the team concept, which every tournament player I’ve had over the years that has played high school tennis will tell you it was the best thing they’ve ever done,” Hampton said. “They love the team atmosphere.”

Credit: Brian Bates

Credit: Brian Bates

Four of the five teams that won state championships in 2022 came back to win again on Saturday -- Johns Creek in 6A, Westminster in 4A, Wesleyan in 3A and Lake Oconee Academy in Class A Division II.

Class 6A: Johns Creek 3, Marist 0

Johns Creek won its fifth straight championship by defeating Marist, last year’s Class 4A winner, in a sweep.

The Titans have captured seven state championships and are unbeaten in state championship games since 2019.

Starting for Johns Creek were Jacob Lee at No. 1 singles, Andrew Hertfelder at No. 2 and Wesley Cofner at No. 3.

The doubles teams are Peter Gottschalk and Alavaro Avila-Guilabert at No. 1 and Yusuf Khan and Parth Mody at No. 2.

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Class 5A: Greater Atlanta Christian 3, Chattahoochee 0

Greater Atlanta Christian won its first state championship since 2015 by beating fellow Region 6 member Chattahoochee. It was the third time the teams played this year; Chattahoochee won the regular-season match and GAC won the region title re-match.

GAC was led by No. 1 singles player Jason Kim and No. 3 Harrison Kemp, a freshman. The No. 2 doubles team of Atlas Covey and Ayaan Valiana closed it out. No. 2 singes Martin Ticona and the No. 1 doubles team of Nico Warner and Jack Gessner did not complete their matches.

The key match came early when Kim, who has accepted an appointment to the Naval Academy, defeated rival Maanas Junghare 6-2, 6-3 to the set the tone. It was their third meeting; Junghare won in the regular season and Kim prevailed in the region title game -- both in three sets.

“Jason has a way of being methodical and he’s got a great ground game,” coach Brett Harte said. “Good player, good young man. It really makes a difference when you win that first match.”

And when Kemp beat Suchir Sama 6-2, 6-4, the Spartans could take a deep breath.

Class 4A: Westminster 3, North Oconee 0

Westminster successfully defended its state champions with a quick 3-0 win over North Oconee. It was the third straight championship for the Wildcats.

Westminster’s winning lineup included Charlie Burdell at No. 1 singles, Jack Burdell at No. 2 and Evan Le at No. 3.

The Wildcats’ doubles teams were George Mattie and Ryan Sager at No. 1 and Kanav Kakkar and Landon Cummings at No. 2.

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Class 3A: Wesleyan 3, Savannah Country Day 0

Wesleyan followed the example set by the girls in the morning and blanked its Savannah opponent and successfully defend its title.

The Wolves got a win from Grayson Balloon at No. 1 singles and swept both doubles matches – No. 1 Nick Follett and Jake Deadwyler and No. 2 Aidan Abraham and Matthew Godfrey. Landon Clement at No. 2 singles and Connor Hewilson at No. 3 did not complete their matches.

“We set the bar pretty high,” said coach Jonathan Sykes, whose girls won the state championship in the morning. “That was our goal from day one was to go back-to-back.”

Wesleyan had three seniors on the roster, but the Wolves tried a number of different lineups before settling on the won that would bring home the trophy.

“We had a lot of maneuvering of the lineup,” Sykes said. “We had a sophomore come up and play No. 2 singles. They were team players, right? They just kind of wherever you need me. Their attitudes were awesome.”

Class 2A: Mount Paran 3, Fellowship Christian 2

The marathon match ended when Mount Paran’s Dillon Santana outlasted Fellowships Connor Dell, the two team’s No. 1 singles players, in a three-set tiebreaker. It was the first state championship for the Eagles.

Other starters on the winning Mount Paran side were Baker Watson at No. 2 singles and Sebastian Bolivar at No. 3. The doubles teams were Ben Moultrie and Angelo Tourna at No. 1 and Lucas Harper and Joe Ferary at No. 2.

Class A Division I: Atlanta International 3, Mount Vernon 1

Atlanta International won its first state tennis championship, beating Region 6 rival Mount Vernon in the title game. It was a rematch of the Region 6 game, which Atlanta International also won.

The Eagles’ starting lineup was Heys Parker at No. 1 singles, Kalvin Yi at No. 2 and Tomas Uribe at No. 3. The doubles teams were made up of Collin Crawford and Sebastian Terwindt at No. 1 and Mauricio Uribe and Caden McLary at No. 2.

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Class A Division II: Lake Oconee Academy 3, Taylor County 0

Lake Oconee successfully defended its title with a 3-0 win over Taylor County.

The Titans got wins at No. 1 singles from Cooper Ciavola and No. 3 singles Garrett Payne, as well as at No. 2 doubles with Wyatt Imhof and Christian Moore. Maddox Cantrell at No. 2 singles and the No. 2 doubles team of Adam Kalmanowicz and Justin Zahler did not finish.

“This was the plan. Now we get another one of these,” Lake Oconee Academy coach Tom Imhof said, pointing to the 2022 championship ring on his hand.

The Titans were loaded with seniors, including Ciavola, the Region 8 player of the year. The team got a boost from freshman Wyatt Imhof, the son of the coach, who anchored the second doubles team.