After falling short in the region finals last season, Lambert’s tennis programs are back on top.
The Lady Longhorns topped Chattahoochee 4-1 to win their third region title in four years on Wednesday at Fowler Park, shortly before Lambert’s boys delivered the program’s first-ever win over Johns Creek, 3-2, and earned their second region championship since the school opened in 2009.
"Those were hard-fought matches," Lambert boys head coach Eric Hampton said. "We finally got the monkey off our back.
"You always expect to win it. We knew we had a good chance. They gutted it out and got a big win for us."
Like many programs around the state, Lambert’s rosters were affected this season by a Georgia High School Association ruling that prevented players from leaving school early to take sports lessons. The GHSA has rescinded the ruling for 2014 season due to the high number of players who chose to forgo high school tennis in order to attend sports academies.
"We lost one very, very good singles player," Hampton said.
"I had a singles player that wasn’t going to play [because of the ruling,] but he decided he wanted to come back and play his senior year.
"The way that [rule] was put there; that wasn’t thought through properly."
Lambert trailed 2-1 and was on the verge of losing, but strong performances from No.1 doubles team Drew Lahey and Kevin Mayer (6-7, 7-6, 6-4) and No. 2 doubles team Sam Douglass and Andrew Hemings (6-2, 2-6, 6-3) won the matchup for the Longhorns.
Lambert’s Jake Bouchillon fell at No. 1 singles 3-6, 4-6, while Eric Devries lost 3-6, 1-6 in No. 2 singles.
The girls team had little trouble en route to the region’s top-seed behind Karlee Bryde (6-1, 6-0) at No. 1 singles, Caroline Wakefield (6-1, 6-0) at No. 3 singles, Morgan Adams and Jessica Owen (6-1, 6-0) at No. 1 doubles and Vanessa Schrils and Lauren Townsend (6-1, DF) at No. 2 doubles.
"Team work and dedication," Lambert girls head coach Ali Conley said. "We faced Chattahoochee in the regular season, but tournament play is [different.]
"We played how we wanted to play. We have a very young team — four freshmen, one sophomore and two seniors. The level of talent is extremely high; they’ve come a long way."
Adams admitted that she was a little nervous during the match, but was confident her team would prevail.
"There’s always going to be some nerves," Adams said. "We beat them in the regular season matches, so that was a confidence booster for us.
"The volleys were really good [and] we were really aggressive at the net, which is good. It’s really exciting for us that we’ll be seeded well in the state tournament and we’ll be able to have a bunch of our matches at home, so we’ll be able to get a crowd out and hopefully do well."
Both Lambert squads will open the Class 6A state tournament against the No. 4 seed from Region 7-AAAAAA.