COVINGTON, Ga. — Carter Malcolm sparked the Eastside boys tennis team to the point where it made quick work of Baldwin, winning the first round of the Class AAAA state tournament in just over an hour.
“There’s a lot of goofing off usually with the team as far as this year goes. But whenever there’s a serious tone they respond every well to it,” Eastside senior and No. 1 singles player Isaac Ugan said. “It helped us all get in the zone and get in a serious manner for the matches coming up.”
Before the match Malcolm, a senior and No. 2 singles player, had a heart-to-heart with the team that helped them focus.
“I told them we had to play like we have all season and not worry about the next round. We just have to worry about this round,” said Malcolm. “We’ve been here before. Me and Isaac have been here before. It’s all about keeping a level head.”
Ugan made the first move in heading to the second round with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Wyatt Horton in just over 30 minutes.
Eastside made it 2-0 10 minutes later with a 6-0, 6-1 win by Malcolm over Jamel Bayman.
“When Carter came off the court he said I was trying to beat you off the court,” said Ugan. “There’s a little bit of competition between us. It’s just the friendliness and motivation for each and every one of us playing.”
Eastside advanced to the next round when the No. 1 doubles team of Conner Contrell and Jim Gregory defeated Christopher Riner and Jerman Cooper 6-3, 6-0. And while the Eagles are certainly glad to advance, the state tournament’s second round isn’t exactly rarified air for the program.
“It’s not our first time playing (second round) in my four years here,” said Ugan. “It’s something that we expect. It’s not easy by any means but it’s a great accomplishment to say we made it to the second round.”
With each team winning its match 6-1, the No. 2 doubles duo of Will Ebert and Jalen Davis split the first two sets against Mason Doaney and Matthew Stoogs before Ebert and Davis walked off the court leading 2-1.
Eastside will travel to West Laurens for the second round of the playoffs next week.