Clutch play clinches GHSA state tennis title for Stratford boys
Stratford boys tennis coach Jaime Kaplan had a feeling the state championship match might come down No 3 singles. So she had a little chat with freshman Daniel Cohen and advised him about what might happen, just so he wouldn’t be overcome in the moment.
It turns out she was right. The deciding match was at No. 3 singles. And it turns out Cohen handled the pressure just fine and provided the winning margin to help the Eagles defeat Mt. Paran Christian 3-2 on Saturday and win the Class A Private boys championship at the Clayton County International Park.
Stratford had won the two singles matches and Mt. Paran had prevailed in the two doubles matches, leaving Cohen as the only active match. Needless to say, all the eyes for both teams were focused on the lone activity.
“I had already warned him,” Kaplan said. “I said, ‘Look, I feel it’s coming down to your match. It could be you and a big crowd.’ And he was fine with it. If there’s anybody I want to give the ball to, it was him.”
By the time it was determined that the No. 3 singles match would be the decider, Cohen was already ahead 5-0 in the first set.
Stratford’s Mark Barrow won his No. 1 singles match over Patrick Eidorfer 7-5, 7-5 and remained undefeated. Younger brother Samuel Barrow defeated Sam Bruton 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2 singles.
On the doubles side, Mt. Paran’s No. 1 team of Will Burton and Jared Knox defeated Stratford’s Akshay Ranabhotu and Carter Eddlemon 6-1, 6-0. Mt. Paran’s No. 2 team of Michael Floam and Jamison Hanley beat Statford’s Greg Sutton and Tejay Athni 6-0, 6-4.
“I had a feeling it would come down to No. 1 singles,” Kaplan said. “It played out just like I thought it would. I knew they had very strong doubles. We had an uphill climb in the doubles, so we knew we had to pull out all the singles matches.”
Stratford wasn’t an automatic pick to win the title. The Eagles graduated their No. 1 singles player and half of their No. 1 doubles team. The rebuilding effort would be built around four freshmen, who performed at a high level all year.
It is the 11th state tennis championship for the Stratford boys, the second since moving in the GHSA.
“It means a lot,” Kaplan said. “When we went to the GSHA, the competition is a lot stronger across the board in every sport. Tennis is a lot more competitive in the GHSA. To come here and win this title is pretty amazing.”