The Evans High School tennis teams made short work of North Clayton High School's squads Monday afternoon at Patriots Park, where the Knights and Lady Knights recorded easy wins in opening action of the Region 4-AAAAA tournament.
The solid play was nothing new - the Evans boys are unbeaten in 2002, while the Lady Knights also are bidding for a Class AAAAA state playoff berth.
"The players who were on the team last year have really improved, and they're working hard at it," Evans coach Gail Connor said. "I'm proud of their effort."
It didn't take much effort to pound North Clayton in the first-round match, which featured pro-set scoring. The Knights and Lady Knights each won 5-0.
The Lady Knights improved their record to 10-4, while the Evans boys moved to 14-0. Both squads advanced to second-round action Tuesday. The region semifinals and finals will be played Thursday in Stockbridge.
"We've had momentum since the first day of the season," sophomore John Paul Stout said. "We're on the autobahn to victory, and there haven't been any speed bumps along the way."
As simple as Evans made it look against North Clayton, Coach Connor saved some firepower for Tuesday's second-round region tournament match.
Undefeated No. 1 singles player Walt Whitmire sat out Monday's match; Matt Hebbard played No. 1, while Bryan Connor moved up from No. 3 to 2. Scott McGregor filled the No. 3 singles spot. Senior Chris Smith, who normally plays at No. 2 doubles, also had a day of rest.
The Lady Knights sported their regular lineup, except for No. 2 doubles, where Jamie Dymeck and Kristy Maddox played in place of Tania Luge and Beth Register. Dymeck and Maddox only needed an hour to post a 10-6 win, and several matches were over in less than 30 minutes.
Some Evans fans showed up to view the action, but there was little left to see.
Shivani Gupta won No. 1 singles by forfeit; Nataly Machado cruised through No. 2 singles 10-2; Rachelle Pillarelli won 10-2 at No. 3 singles; and, Mary Mangum and Mandy Whitmire took their No. 1 doubles match 10-4.
On the boys side, Matt Hebbard, Connor and McGregor won their singles matches by 10-0 scores; Stout and Brandon Hebbard won 10-1 at No. 1 doubles, while James Stevenson and Ash Madkin teamed for a 10-3 win at No. 2 doubles.
"The whole team has been playing well. We've dominated everybody locally and in our region," Walt Whitmire said. "This team has 10 solid players. It's good to know that when I go out and play my match, the other guys are taking care of business."
Evans closed the 2001 regular season on a sour note - since Evans did not play any region teams, the Knights and Lady Knights were made the bottom seed for the Region 4-AAAAA tournament.
That forced Evans to play prep powerhouse McIntosh, which meant an early exit from the region playoffs last year.
This year the region was subdivided, which gave Evans a better draw, and an enhanced chance of making it to the region finals, which would earn a bid to the Class AAAAA state tournament.
"We've got enough talent, that if we got McIntosh in a close match, it could go our way. We should have a clear road until then," Whitmire said. "I'd like to win region, but just playing in the state tournament would be cool, too."
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