DALTON, Ga. — For Courtney Morton, the final few minutes of the Region 7-AAAA championship tennis match against Cedartown were the most stressful. She already had won her match, but her new job — cheerleader — was a much tougher job to handle.
Eventually, her teammates gave her reason to exhale.
The No. 2 doubles tandem of Rachel Bakker and Caroline Calfee secured the Lady Catamounts' first region championship since 2008 with a 3-0 team victory at Lakeshore Park. Their male counterparts dropped a 3-2 decision to River Ridge in their final.
The two Dalton teams and LaFayette's girls have qualified for the state playoffs. The Dalton girls will host Banneker out of Region 6, while the boys will host Grady out of Atlanta. The Lady Ramblers will travel to Marist in Atlanta.
Morton defeated Berry College signee Valerie DeWandel 6-3, 6-2 in her singles match and was the first off the court. Kara Pendley soon followed with a win at No. 2 singles.
"It's worse having to watch," Morton said. "I'd rather be on the court playing than having to focus on matches I can't control, but it's great that we got the win. It was our goal our senior year to win the region."
Dalton coach David Hilley was equally excited for his girls and disappointed for his boys.
"I wanted two," he said of the region titles. "It was rough and I feel for the guys, but the girls took care of business. It's nice to get the win because it's been so long.
"It's good because we haven't seen this level of excitement in so long."
The LaFayette girls suffered two heartbreaking 3-2 losses Thursday. They had match-point opportunities in their semifinal that would have won the overall match, only to fall to Cedartown, then dropped an equally tough decision to Cass in the consolation match.
"It just wasn't our day," LaFayette coach Clint Harrison said. "We fought hard, though, and the girls have nothing to be ashamed of."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.