After 158 consecutive victories, Walton tasted defeat for the first time in nine years as the Lady Raiders lost to Roswell 3-2 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAA state girls tennis tournament.
The Lady Raiders’ loss ended the longest all-sport winning streak in Georgia high school history
It also ended Walton’s string of eight consecutive Class AAAAA state
The Lady Raiders loss came in the same round of the state tournament that their last defeat happened. The Lady Raiders lost to Chattahoochee in the AAAAA quarterfinals in 2003.
Walton (11-1), the Region 5AAAAA champions, certainly didn’t go down without a fight.
Roswell had to come back from one set down to win a three-hour battle at No. 2 doubles to clinch the win and send Walton to the unusual position of the defeated.
The loss ends the first season for Walton coach Christy Page, who replaced long-time coach Roberta Manheim — who was responsible for to 147 of their 158 consecutive wins.
“We had to lose sometime,” Page said. “That was an unbelievable match. Everybody out here played unbelievable tennis (Thursday) and Roswell’s an awesome team.”
Roswell coach Derek Shackelford acknowledged the significance of the win for his 6AAAAA champion Lady Hornets, who will play either Hillgrove or Lowndes in the AAAAA state semifinals on Saturday at Clayton County International Park in Jonesboro.
“Everyone knows Walton’s prestige and their name and they’ve been the name in tennis for the last seven years,” Shackelford said. “Sometimes, you have to make the way for new blood and I told the players it’s a team effort. It was a complete team effort on our part.”
It was a hard-fought, classic No. 2 doubles match that provided the winning margin for Roswell.
The Walton duo of Erica Baur and Emily Hart won the first set 6-4, but the Lady Hornets tandem of Anmol Narang and Sammie Taylor eked out close wins in the following two sets — winning the second 7-6 — including a 10-8 tiebreaker — and then took another 7-6 decision in the third and deciding set — claiming the tiebreaker 7-1.
“You can’t get any closer than 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 in that doubles match, Page said.
The No. 2 doubles match became the deciding factor after Walton erased a 2-0 deficit as Jessica Cramer and Katie Riley beat Roswell’s Dianna Sas and Madi Gulick 6-1, 7-5 at No. 1 doubles and Joanna Keeline beat Lady Hornet Makensie Fiveash 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 singles to even the match at 2-all.
Roswell jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Laura Patterson defeated Walton’s Suzanne Zenoni 6-1, 6-4 at No. 1 singles and Summer Ralston beat Lady Raider Melissa Mashburn 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2 singles.
“It wasn’t a walkover,” Shackelford said. “There was nothing easy about it. Nothing was easy. All the credit to Walton. They’re champions and for us to come to their turf and beat them here is historical. It’s historical. I’m just very proud of these girls to be a part of that history. Because, (Walton has) their history and we now have ours.”
Despite the loss, Page was proud of her team’s effort this season as the Lady Raiders finish with an 11-1 record.
“I told them all to pat themselves on the back,” Page said. “It was an amazing 11-1 season, especially since this was our first season together.”