By Chris Goltermann


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Tennis remains a sport for individual success. But when it comes to the GHSA state tournament, you can’t advance to the next round alone.

Three — not one — is the magic number.

How a team reaches that pivotal mark, however, is varied only by its depth. And throughout an impressive 16-1 season, Northgate’s girls have continued to put it on display while advancing to the Class 6A Sweet 16.

The Lady Vikings used victories among all three singles lines to sweep Dacula at home on Tuesday after advancing to the postseason through an undefeated record in Region 5-6A.

With both of Northgate’s doubles teams still in contention, Emma Ballew came through with a third and deciding victory with a 6-3, 6-2 decision to clinch the match against the Lady Falcons, who were the No. 4 seed from Region 8.

But may only get tougher from here, even for what has been a talented Lady Viking roster in 2019.

Northgate will match up against either defending state champion Northview, which finished third in Region 7, or River Ridge, this year’s Region 6 runner-up.

Both Northview and River Ridge met in last year’s Class 6A Sweet 16, with Northview moving on to eventually win the title.

The Lady Vikings, however, took another step in the state playoffs after being knocked out by Creekview in the opening round in 2018 after a fourth-place region finish.

Northgate’s returners have shared in the success, with players able to shift throughout the lineup to share in victories during the regular season.

Starters were back at their usual positions for the playoff opener, which had Ballew at her regular No. 2 singles line in between teammates Khayla Taylor and Karrington Garrett.

Garrett was the first player off the court after rolling through a 6-0, 6-0 shutout at her No. 3 position. Not long afterward, Taylor closed out a 6-1, 6-3 straight sets victory of her own to leave three remaining lines on the court and a 2-0 edge for the Lady Vikings.

Both Ballew and Northgate’s No. 2 doubles team of Hannah Bright and Caitlyn Kearney had successfully won opening sets to take command of matches. Ballew got to the finish line first, winning 6-3, 6-2 for the clincher.

Bright and Kearney were also closing in on a potential sweep with the score sitting at 6-2, 4-5. At No. 1 doubles, the Lady Vikings’ top team of Olivia Rankin and Cassandra Chahalis was starting to gain some ground while leading their second set, down 3-6.

Date and time for Northgate’s second round match have yet to be determined. Matches must be completed by the end of Tuesday, April 23.

Northgate was joined in the GHSA tournament locally this year by both Newnan lineups and East Coweta’s boys in Class 7A. All three teams were forced to open postseason play on the road.

The Cougars finished third in Region 2 and are headed to Kennesaw Mountain, this year’s Region 3 runner-up. East Coweta’s boys face two-time Region 3 champion North Cobb on the road.

Newnan’s girls entered the state playoffs as the No. 4 seed from Region 2 and travel to North Paulding.

Heritage School’s girls will compete in Tuesday’s GISA Class AAA State Team Championships after winning this year’s Region 1 title.

Cameron Rogin advanced to the semifinals of this week’s individual Class AAA tournament at the John Drew Tennis Center. Rogin earned consecutive victories over Abby Powell of TiftArea and Kaleigh Wisgett of Westfield to reach the semifinals.

Northgate High School