The Heritage tennis teams did what No. 1 seeds are supposed to do in Thursday's first round of the Class AAAA state tournament -- win convincingly.
The four-time Region 8-AAAA champions boys had no trouble with Region 5-AAAA No. 4 seed Sandy Creek, winning 3-0. The girls, who won their second consecutive league crown last weekend at Madison County High School, defeated Douglas County 3-0.
Wofford College commitment Zach Landy led the way for the boys at No. 1 singles, defeating Keelan Klarl 6-0, 6-2. Klarl, who was considered the top player in Region 5-AAAA after big wins over Starr's Mill and McIntosh, had no answer for the quicker Landy.
"I just felt really good the whole match. That's some of the best I've played this year," Landy said.
His coach and father, Chuck Landy, agreed.
"That's about as well as he can play. He's got some confidence right now," Chuck Landy said. "He hit the ball real well (and Klarl is a) good player. There's some really good boys players from (Region 5)."
Frankie Merkel at No. 2 singles also looked good dispatching Cory Woods 6-1, 6-2. The No. 1 doubles team of Erik Lauritsen and Trey Calcinore polished off the first round win with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over David Lamb and Kyle Sekellick.
The Lady Patriots, trying to return to the Class AAAA semifinals, got wins from both doubles teams to help eliminate the No. 4 seeded Tigers. No. 2 doubles players Ashley Merkel and Brooke Craft won 6-2, 6-0 over Trisha Francisco and Bridget Clagborne, which followed a 6-0, 6-0 romp by Amanda Voyles and Callie Alford at No. 1 doubles.
"(Alford and Voyles) go on the court first. We look to them to really get the momentum for our team," Lady Patriots coach Brian Smith said. "Today, they did a great job of coming out and taking care of business. You start with the momentum, but you also need closers."
In the first round win, that closer was Alix Maloney. The sophomore led 5-2 in the first set against Nicole Ashiedu. Ashiedu rallied to make it 5-4, but Maloney held on for a 6-4 victory. The second set wasn't as close with Maloney cruising past Ashiedu 6-1.
"She had a tight first set, but she pulled it out and really perservered in the second set," Smith said of Maloney. "It's just a testament to the work she's been putting in (and) it's a testament of how focused the girls are. We're peaking at the right time. Ready to move on to second round of state."
In the second round, Smith's bunch will host Region 7-AAAA No. 2 seed Hillgrove, while the boys entertain Region 6-AAAA No. 3 seedNorth Springs. The Heritage coaches were contemplating playing the matches Wednesday and Thursday, though no official date had been set at press time. By GHSA rule, the round of 16 must be completed by Thursday.