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Lions sweep Region 7 tennis titles

Staff Photo: John Bohn Mill Creek's Quentin Lavender returns a volley to Peachtree Ridge's Alex Makarenko during the boy's number one singles match during the Region 7-AAAAAA tennis finals played at Hamilton Mill Country Club on Thursday.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Mill Creek's Quentin Lavender returns a volley to Peachtree Ridge's Alex Makarenko during the boy's number one singles match during the Region 7-AAAAAA tennis finals played at Hamilton Mill Country Club on Thursday.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Peachtree Ridge's Abby Owens returns a volley to North Gwinnett's Hannah Serdinia during the girl's number one singles match at the Region 7-AAAAAA tennis finals played at Hamilton Mill Country Club on Thursday.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Peachtree Ridge's Alex Makarenko returns a volley to Mill Creek's Quentin Lavender during the boy's number one singles match at the Region 7-AAAAAA tennis finals played at Hamilton Mill Country Club on Thursday.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn North Gwinnett's Hannah Serdinia returns a volley to Peachtree Ridge's Abby Owens during the girl's number one singles match as the Region 7-AAAAAA tennis finals are played at Hamilton Mill Country Club on Thursday.

HOSCHTON -- Alex Makarenko gave a fist pump and shouted, "Come on!" as he walked toward the net at Hamilton Mill Country Club on Thursday.

The Peachtree Ridge senior had just defeated Mill Creek's Quentin Lavendar for the first time. Even more important, he secured the Lions' Region 7-AAAAAA championship.

"I knew if I could win, we could win region," Makarenko said.

The Peachtree Ridge girls also won the Region 7-AAAAAA championship, defeating North Gwinnett 3-0. It was the fourth straight title for the Lions.

"We wanted to continue our winning tradition," Peachtree Ridge senior Abby Owens said.

Owens won 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1 singles, while Ali Mills picked up a second point at No. 3 singles with a 6-1, 6-0 victory.

Jena Kelly sealed the region title at No. 2 singles. Kelly was down 40-love in the second set and came back to win 6-2, 6-4.

"That was a big match for us," Peachtree Ridge coach Chrissie Bolt said.

The Lions' doubles teams of Laura Kelly and Sreeja Choparra at No. 1 and Riley Guise and Mary Frances Greenwood at No. 2 were also winning, but did not finish in time.

"I was more proud of my doubles coming back," Bolt said.

Peachtree Ridge (15-1) will head into the state playoffs as the No. 1 seed from Region 7. Its only loss was to Westminster this season.

"I'm really excited for state," Owens said. "I think we can win it."

Peachtree Ridge's boys defeated Mill Creek 3-1 to win the region crown for the second time in three years.

The victory over the Hawks was redemption for the Lions (13-3), whose only region loss this season was to Mill Creek.

"It could have went either way," first year Lions coach Michelle Hellman said.

The difference on Thursday was Makarenko. The senior was 0-for-4 against Lavendar going into the match and pulled out a 6-4, 7-6 victory on Thursday.

"I was definitely more patient," Makarenko said. "I waited for my opportunities."

The Lions also got wins from their doubles teams to help win the title. Taylor Foote and Niki Makarenko won at No. 1 doubles 6-1, 6-2 and Alex Peed and Colin Greeff won at No. 2 doubles 6-3, 6-2.

Jashith Choppara lost at No. 2 singles and Kevin Lim was still playing at No. 3 singles when the match was stopped.

Peachtree Ridge will go into the Class AAAAAA state tournament as the No. 1 seed from Region 7.

"I feel like we can do some damage," Makarenko said. "This team can go far."