0

Westwood's Smith two wins from 2nd state title (EDITS: fixes Smith's position to No. 1 singles)

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

MACON -- The rain was about the only thing that had a chance of stopping Westwood sophomore tennis star Sydnee Smith on Tuesday.

Smith, the defending GISA Class A state champ in girls No. 1 singles, waltzed to the Final Four on Tuesday during the first and second rounds of the state tournament, and now sits two wins away from back-to-back titles.

"I was really consistent (Tuesday)," said Smith, who won both her matches in 6-0, 6-0 routs -- but only after a nearly three-hour rain delay threatened to postpone the quarterfinal matches to Monday, meaning Smith would've had to potentially play three matches instead of two to win her second straight crown.

But when play resumed at 6 p.m., Smith made short work of the No. 3 seed from David Emanuel and ensured she'll have a chance to defend her crown.

Of course, to win it all again, she may have go through her Lady Wildcats teammate, Coley Westbrook, who was the tournament's No. 2 seed and also advanced to the Final Four. Westbrook won her opening match, 7-6, 6-0, against the No. 3 seed from Briarwood, then edged the No. 1 seed from Citizen's Christian, 6-4, 6-3.

But because they're on opposite sides of the bracket, each would have to win their semifinal Monday to meet.

"Everyone's a good player when you reach the Final Four," Smith said.

That includes two more of Smith and Westbrook's teammates: Westwood doubles duo Annabelle Larkin and Kaycie Eubanks, which squeaked by in their first-round match, then routed their No. 3-ssed quarterfinal-round opponents from Thomas Jefferson, 6-0, 6-2.

"Those may be our only four back on Monday," began Westwood boys and girls coach Carole Powell, "but I'm proud of how everyone played."

Powell was eluding to the fact that none of the members of the Westwood boys team -- which, like the girls, were the Region 3-A champ this season -- that qualified for state made it past the second round Tuesday. No. 1 singles player Jake Kotter went the furthest, reaching the second round in singles, but then lost, 6-4, 6-2.

But the prevailing story of the day was once again Smith, who has been playing tennis since she was in elementary school and now is poised to once again show how the years of practice have paid off.

"She was just unstoppable out there," Powell said.

So Syd, what's the plan between now and Monday?

"Pretty much the same thing: just practice with my dad (and my team)," she said. "It's just cool to (make it back) and have my teammates with me."