GAINESVILLE — The North Hall girls tennis program has developed quite a pedigree over the past four seasons. In fact, the Lady Trojans entered Tuesday's Class AAA playoff match with Cook in hopes of clinching their third state quarterfinal bid over that period.
Even that momentum could not prevent a few pre-match butterflies, however. And after playing wait-and-see for 24 hours, North Hall was eager to get on the court and get things going -- which it did in style, sweeping past Cook 3-0 and into the third round of the postseason.
"Yesterday we had a really good warm-up of about two hours," North Hall No. 2 singles player Lauren Davis chuckled after the match, which was originally scheduled for early Monday afternoon, delayed and then postponed a day after weather intervened.
"We just wanted to come out and get it done; we wanted to get to the Elite Eight," added teammate and No. 3 singles Christen Barnes.
All three Lady Trojans' singles players ensured just that, as Davis defeated Maggie Allen 6-2, 6-1 and Barnes swept Camille Fauscett 6-1, 6-1 to clinch the victory. North Hall's No. 1 singles, Anna Montgomery had already defeated Macie Rossatti 6-0, 6-1.
"They had some nerves early, and it took a while for them to find their groove, but they found it," said North Hall coach Bob Woodworth. "They just love to play, and it makes my job so easy."
Despite the talk of nerves North Hall made it appear easy enough, needing just over an hour to see off the visitors from south Georgia. North Hall's doubles teams of Sydney Patterson/Annalise Gregory (No. 1) and Raquel Kallab/Carsen Baumgardner (No. 2) were still in the midst of their matches when play was halted.
"There were some close points early, but we pulled it out team-wise," Davis said. "It was also great because the whole school came out here to watch."
The Lady Trojans move on to the quarterfinals, where they will flip a coin to determine home-court advantage against Brantley County.
One more win would clinch the North Hall girls' first-ever semifinal berth -- though the Lady Trojans say that they will worry about that when and if it happens.
"We're just going to focus on the next match," said Barnes, a junior -- which makes her one of the elders on a starting squad that features two juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen.
"It's been so exciting to watch them enjoy the heck out of playing all season," Woodworth said. "I had hoped this team could be special. But I hope that before every season."