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Monday February 8th, 2016 1:53PM

Tennis: Lady Red Elephants cruise past North Atlanta in opening round of state

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
GAINESVILLE -- Kellie Smith had no idea what to expect from Gainesville's opponents in the first round of the girls tennis playoffs.

So Smith advised her Lady Red Elephants to approach their North Atlanta showdown like a championship match.

Gainesville's players obviously took the advice to heart.

The Lady Red Elephants cruised past North Atlanta 3-0 on Monday at Longwood Park, taking the No. 2 and 3 singles points, as well as the No. 2 doubles point while dropping just two games in the process. (Gainesville also led in the other two matches when the deciding point was clinched.)

"I just told my girls that no matter who we played, we had to play our game," Smith said. "Our girls came out focused and determined today."

It was obvious from the start, as each Gainesville player/team won in the first set. Brinkley Frankum finished first dominating at No. 3 singles 6-0, 6-0 to start the dominoes falling for the Lady Red Elephants -- who moved on to the Class AAAAA second round.

Haley Frankum and Josie Evert continued the Lady Red Elephants' control, winning 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2 doubles, before Katherine Wright wrapped up the victory courtesy a 6-0, 6-2 victory at No. 2 singles.

"Our girls have had to be versatile this season; I've switched them around a lot and had them playing at different positions," Smith said. "I think that's really helped the girls' games knowing how to win with the team and not just their match."

Smith said that Gainesville's experience of last season -- in which the Lady Red Elephants also won Region 8-AAAAA and reached the second round of state -- also proved pivotal.

"Tennis at this level now is at its best, after you reach this point it's all competitive, and the more prepared you are for that level, the more sound you'll play," Smith said. "These girls have experience -- which you is huge at this level, because it's pressure that you never get anywhere else."

Smith, who has led the Lady Red Elephants for five seasons, hopes her squad can finally break through its second round barrier this time around -- though she knows it will not be easy against the winner of North Paulding and Sequoyah

"We haven't done it in my five years here," Smith said. "I really hope this can be the year."

Gainesville will host the second round match-up at a time to be determined.
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