Both teams needed about an hour to emerge as Region 4AAAAAA champions, beating both Hillgrove teams by a pair of 3-0 scores.
Not only have the Lady Mustangs managed to win four straight region titles, they’re coming off back-to-back state semifinal appearances. Much of their success has stemmed from producing young singles talent – sophomore Samantha Armas, juniors Nicole Croxton and Chiko Okonkwo and freshman Sophia Suri.
Armas and Croxton combined to lose just four games at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively. Armas defeated Hillgrove’s Chioma Okonkwo 6-2, 6-0 and Croxton prevailed 6-1, 6-1 over Jessica Cantrell.
“Those two are looking strong,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Connie Bailey said. “They always have solid game plans and they do things out there that put us in awe.”
Armas lost the opening game of her match against Chioma Okonkwo before adjusting by hitting lower shots to Okonkwo’s forehand, forcing the taller player to lunge for many of her shots. An aggressive baseline game was all Croxton needed to win handily.
No. 2 doubles duo Ivy Evatt and Samantha Maddie won 6-1, 6-3 at No. 2 doubles over Sarah Simm and Olivia Brooks for the third and final point.
Chiko Okonkwo and Suri won the first set at No. 1 doubles over Hannah Creech and Emily Dubel and Abby Seabaugh was down a set at No. 3 singles to Hillgrove’s Taylor Cranford.
North Cobb managed to win region this season, despite losing four starters from last year’s AAAAAA state runner-up team including top two singles players Jaryd Reese (Jacksonville State) and Andre Canino.
The Warriors started the season 0-3 with losses to Lassiter, Walton and Wheeler before getting back on the winning track with 11 straight.
Sophomore Rohman Mitchell was elevated from No. 3 singles to No. 1 singles and didn’t give up a game against Hillgrove’s Maddux Mitchell, winning 6-0, 6-0.
But the remaining North Cobb victories were tighter.
Hunter Essendeft and Grant Westbrook battled Jacob Cantrell and Grant Westbrook to a 6-3, 6-4 win and Richard Johnson was the final match to come off at No. 2 singles, winning 6-4, 6-1 over Henry Squire.
“We played much better than the last time we played against them, North Cobb just played awesome” Hillgrove coach Scott Hill said. “We played well. North Cobb played awesome.”
Johnson’s match against Squire went back-and-forth for most of the first set, both players trading points from the baseline. But when Johnson had to change rackets after breaking a string, he challenged Squire by approaching the net more and Squire struggled to get the ball past him.
Ronak Mody was unable to finish his match against Jay Murse at No. 3 singles after winning the first set 7-5 and North Cobb’s Preston Lahman and Jake Tuchman split sets with Hillgrove’s Davis Adams and Andy Johnson.