GAINESVILLE -- For several minutes it looked as if another fightback was on the cards -- but it was not to be on Thursday, as the Gainesville girls tennis team suffered a 3-0 loss to Cambridge in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals.
The Lady Red Elephants fell behind 2-0 -- just like in their second round 3-2 comeback over Sequoyah -- and responded by turning up the pressure on Cambridge. But this time the visitors held on, claiming the No. 2 doubles point 6-3, 6-4 to clinch a semifinal berth and knock Gainesville from the postseason.
"They were beatable, but right at the moment we should have stepped up we couldn't," Gainesville coach Kellie Smith said. "We played with great integrity and and determination, and I'm so proud of these girls. They never ever gave up."
The Lady Red Elephants had already shown plenty of grit in reaching the quarterfinals for the first time since 2005, but Cambridge showed plenty of determination of its own, taking the No. 1 singles point and No. 1 doubles point in quick succession.
Gainesville wasn't about to give in, however, and Brinkley Frankum (at No. 3 singles), Katherine Wright (No. 2 singles) and the No. 2 doubles team of Josie Evert and Haley Frankum dug in and continued to fight, pushing their opponents after each dropped their opening sets. Frankum knotted her match at a set apiece, but Cambridge halted the comeback with a hard-fought win in the second set to seal the match.
The defeat closed out the varsity careers of Brinkley Frankum and No. 1 doubles team Morgan Mercer and Suzanne Smith.
"I'm so honored for this to be my senior year; we've accomplished so much," Smith said. "I've grown up with these girls, and I'm so proud that they gave it their all. I think, hopefully, we're going to leave the girls coming back with high hopes and the confidence to be strong and do even better next year."
Gainesville returns Wright, Summer and Evert and Haley Frankum next season.
"We've got a good feeder program too, and we've got some good girls coming in," Smith said. "Of course no one will ever take the place of my seniors, but we'll be OK."