CONYERS -- The Heritage girls tennis team kept rolling along Wednesday afternoon.
The two-time defending Region 8-AAAA champion Lady Patriots swept three matches from Region 7 No. 2 Hillgrove in the second round of the Class AAAA state tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals.
Alix Maloney got things started at No. 1 singles, using a strong forehand to oust Kimberly Williams, 6-0, 6-1. Maloney, just a sophomore, hasn't lost a set in her first five postseason matches -- three in the region tournament and in each of the first two rounds of the state playoffs.
"Just passing with the forehand, I felt pretty strong. (Williams) was probably one of the best players I've played," said Maloney.
"Her match got it started, really got us going," said Lady Patriots coach Brian Smith.
Both doubles teams wrapped up the second round victory in convincing fashion. Callie Alford and Amanda Voyles continued their dominance at No. 1 doubles, handling Elise Joyce and Hannah Lawson 6-0, 6-2.
At No. 2 doubles, Brooke Craft and Ashley Merkel rallied for a 7-5 tiebreaker victory in the first set, then clinched the team win with a 6-0 shutout in the second set over Lauren and Kristen Marlatt.
"(Craft and Merkel) had a really close first set, that 12th game they just played really aggressive. Big momentum boost. If they can get to the net that's their strength," said Smith. "We've certainly been working hard and our focus is there. We're just coming out and taking care of business."
No. 2 singles player Taylor Maloney came back from a 6-5 deficit in the first set to defeat Janie Brown, 7-6. She looked strong in building a 2-0 lead in the second set, but didn't finish after the Lady Patriots had already won three matches. The early victory also prevented Kaylee Humphries and Hillgrove's Meredith Rambo from getting on the court at No. 3 singles.
"(Taylor Maloney is) the captain of our team. For her to close out that tie-breaker was huge," Smith said. "The teams get tougher and tougher. Across the board, Hillgrove has put out real quality players. Hillgrove is a solid team all the way up and down their lineup."
"Our team is really strong," added Alix Maloney.
Heritage, hoping to return to the semifinals for the second consecutive season, will play the winner of Region 5-AAAA champion Starr's Mill and Region 7 No. 3 Cass in the third round.