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South Effingham boys move into second round
South Effingham's Reece Allen (right) meets Veterans' Daniel Kang at the net after prevailing in his match 6-2,3-6, 6-3. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

GUYTON -- The persistent wind that howled across its courts wasn't the only thing that created turbulence for South Effingham's boys tennis team Thursday.

An extremely tight series of matches added to the feeling of uneasiness.

The Mustangs prevailed, though, knocking off Veterans 3-1 to advance to the second round of the Class AAAAA tournament.

No. 3 singles player Reese Allen sealed the deal with a three-set win (6-3, 3-6, 6-3) just seconds after Hunter Wainwright won his match (6-3, 7-6) by taking a second-set tiebreaker.

Zan Kreyenbuhl (6-1, 6-0) was the first off the court with his victory in No. 1 singles.

Nick Walbert and Matt Grant were leading their No. 1 doubles match in the third set when Allen's win gave the Mustangs their decisive third point.  Connor Reinholt and Tommy Tapley lost 6-2, 6-2.

Delete-Merge Up

South Effingham coach Josh Cain said the dramatic matches stirred his memory.

"It's tough but I enjoy it," he said. "It reminded of some tough matches I had when I was in high school. I hope I was able to impart something useful in those situations like, 'Don't be nervous" or 'Think about stuff in life that is much more important,'

"Hopefully, that makes them calm down a little bit."

Cain expressed pride in his team's mental toughness, which he said started to emerge in a recent win over Region 2-AAAAA foe Wayne County. 

"I think that match built their confidence a lot because this was close," Cain said. "I think in tennis, more than in just about any other sport, you've got to have confidence because it comes down to just you.

"If I had to say what won it for us today, it would be mental toughness because of the high-pressure situations and the wind was awful."

 Players from both teams occasionally showed frustration after well-struck balls were blown into the net or out of bounds. 

South Effingham will visit Ola in McDonough next week.

"This is probably the best team I've had in the three years I've been here," Cain said. "The goal is always to go to the Final Four but I'm very excited to be going to the Sweet 16."