Straight-set wins by Samantha Armas at No. 1 and Chika Okonkwo at No. 3 gave the Lady Mustangs a huge boost, on the way to a third straight region championship capped with a 3-0 win over Hillgrove in Thursday’s Region 4AAAAAA final at Marietta.
Kennesaw Mountain continues finding ways to stack its singles lineup with talent. Last year, it was Nicole Croxton who helped give the Lady Mustangs a boost into the state semifinals as a freshman. This season, another freshman, Armas, has assumed the No. 1 spot — with Croxton at No. 2 — and she didn’t disappoint Thursday.
Armas only lost three games en route to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Chioma Okonkwo — the sister of Chika Okonkwo, who recovered from a slow start to beat Taylor Cranford at 6-3, 6-0.
Croxton had just begun her match with Jessica Cantrell when Samantha Maddin and Ivy Evatt clinched Kennesaw Mountain’s final point at No. 2 doubles with a 6-4, 6-4 victory.
“I feel fortunate to have the kids that I have,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Connie Bailey said. “Samantha played a great match, so I felt we were OK at line 1, but Chika struggled at the beginning.”
Both of Kennesaw Mountain’s doubles teams struggled early, as did Chika Okonkwo, who trailed Cranford 3-2 in the first set before settling in and reeling off 10 straight games.
Okonkwo’s struggles on serve and unforced errors were issues in the first five games.
“I was missing all my serves, but it got better once I calmed down,” she said. “I just had to take shots one at a time and play casually.”
At No. 2 doubles, Maddin and Evatt had their serves broken in the first games of both sets before breaking right back. They led 4-1 in the second set, and Hillgrove’s Elise Joyce and Emily Duebel cut it to 4-3 before the Lady Mustangs’ duo stepped up their net play to win the final two games.
Harrison 3, North Cobb 1: The momentum changed with each set as Alexis Morris won 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 over Jasmin Morgan at No. 1 singles to help the Lady Hoyas secure Region 4AAAAAA’s No. 3 seed.
Harrison’s other winners were Wendy Jhang at No. 3 singles (6-1, 6-2) and Taylor Lambertson and Jaclyn Black at No. 1 doubles (6-2, 6-1).