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Brookwood boys claim state tennis title

Staff Photo: John Bohn Brokwood boys tennis player Zach Jennings returns a volley to North Cobb's Andre Canino during the Class AAAAAA boys state championship tennis match played in Jonesboro on Saturday.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Brokwood boys tennis player Zach Jennings returns a volley to North Cobb's Andre Canino during the Class AAAAAA boys state championship tennis match played in Jonesboro on Saturday.

JONESBORO -- Brookwood waited a little longer than anticipated to take the court in Saturday's Class AAAAAA state boys tennis championship match against North Cobb.

Once the Broncos did, it didn't take them long to take command.

Boosted by the strong play from the doubles teams of Matt Jones and Will McWhirt at No. 1 and Ryan Pridgeon and Christian Gochnauer at No. 2, Brookwood quickly rolled to a 3-0 victory Saturday at the Clayton County International Park Tennis Center to secure the program's sixth state title, and second in the last three years.

"This is a (true) team," first-year Brookwood coach Bill Shields said. "Sometimes, it's the singles players who come up big, just like it was (in last week's semifinal win over Westlake). (Saturday), it was the doubles (teams)."

With season veterans in seniors Jones and Gochnauer teamed with underclassmen McWhirt (a junior) and Pridgeon (a sophomore) respectively, the Broncos (23-3) doubles teams definitely got the Broncos kick-started quickly Saturday after the two teams were forced to wait several minutes after the scheduled starting time until enough courts came open to start the match.

"We knew that would happen," Shields said. "We just told (the players) to be prepared because they may wind up starting up to an hour late because of the weather or waiting for courts or whatever. And they were ready for that."

And both doubles teams showed that preparation by jumping out in front early and staying there.

"We were fine from the beginning," said Jones, who played as a sophomore for Brookwood's last state championship team, the Class AAAAA title holders in 2011. "We started out a little slow and lost the first game, but then we got on a roll and won the next six.

"We knew (North Cobb) had three good singles players, and we knew both doubles (teams had to win), and we were pretty sure we could take over."

And as quick as Jones and McWhirt were in beating North Cobb's (21-2) top team of Jake Tuchmann and Ronak Mony 6-4, 6-1, Gochnauer and Pridgeon dispatched the Warriors' tandem of Bradford Lahmann and Jacob Hightower 6-1, 6-1 in the No. 2 doubles match.

That commanding lead came in handy, with both singles players Drew Wendel and David Brown embroiled in tough matches at No. 1 and 3 singles respectively with North Cobb's Jaryd Reese and Rohman Mitchell.

Wendell took the first set from Reese 6-4, but had fallen behind in the second 5-1, while Brown dropped the opening set 6-4 before rallying to take a 5-2 lead in the second.

However, Zach Jennings made the completion of those matches unnecessary by posting a straight-sets win at No. 2 singles over Andre Canino by scores of 6-1 and 6-4 to clinch the title for Brookwood.

Class AA

Westminster 3, Wesleyan 0

The Wolves' (11-10) remarkable postseason run came to an end thanks to a similar run by Westminster's (20-1) doubles teams.

Spain Short and Will Anderson teamed to defeat Cole Brown and Andrew Dorman 6-1, 7-5 at No. 1, while Jimmy White and Connor Hutchins defeated Cameron Anderson and Tucker Cannon by the identical score at No. 2 to go.

Combined with Stephen Solms' 6-1, 6-1 win over Austin Zakas at No. 2 singles, the two doubles wins helped secure the Wildcats' 12 state title in the last 13 years.

Despite the loss, Wolves coach Shellie Salazar praised the Wolves for their late-season surge, which saw them win five of their last six matches.

"I'm so proud of the way the boys competed," Salazar said. "Our guys really worked through a tough first part of the season and really finished strong in the playoffs. ... And I was proud of our guys who, after the first set didn't go our way, came back and fought hard the second set. Westminster earned it (Saturday), but I'm so proud of the way our guys competed."