MOULTRIE — The Colquitt County girls tennis team fell one match short of a return to Class AAAAA Final Four on Saturday, falling to Newnan 3-0 in the state sectional at the John Drew Smith Tennis Center in Macon.

The four-time defending Region 1-AAAAA champions finish the season 19-4.

Colquitt won its first-round state tournament match at home last week 5-0 over Tri-Cities and defeated Camden County 3-0 in its first match on Saturday.

But Lady Packers coach Linda Berl knew her team would have its hands full with the Lady Cougars and they did.

Berl said, however, that despite the score, three of the matches were close and Colquitt led the two that were not finished when Newnan clinched.

“It was really a 3-2 that could have been 3-2 the other way,” Berl said. “When we beat Camden, it was a solid 3-0. This was not like that.”

Newnan was excellent at No. 1 and No. 2 singles.

At No. 1, Jennifer Betts defeated Lindsay Jacobs 0-6, 0-6. It was just the second loss of the season for Jacobs, who finishes 19-2 for the season.

At No. 2, Jennifer Betts’ freshman sister Shannon defeated Landi Clark by the same 6-0, 6-0 scores.

The No. 1 doubles match was close, with Anne Yearta and Gracie Qurnell up 4-1 in the first set.

But Newnan’s Audrey Massengill and Carolyn Meininger rallied to win that set 5-7 and then took the second, 4-6 to send Newnan to the Final Four.

“We didn’t give it to them,” Berl said. “They took it. We had it in our grasp. There were just a couple of points here and there.

“But they are a tough team. They were much better than the Newnan team we played two years ago.”

The Lady Packers eliminated the Lady Cougars 4-1 in a second-round state tournament match in 2004.

Colquitt was in good shape in the two unfinished matches.

The No. 2 doubles team of Jessica Harvin and Savanna Lamon was leading Danielle Ruble and Samantha Scott 6-4, 5-3, and Monique Murphy was winning at No. 3 singles over Kate Ambercrombie 6-0, 5-4.

“Monique didn’t want to leave the court,” Berl said.

The Lady Packers advanced with a 3-0 victory over Camden County in their first match of the day.

Jacobs won at No. 1 singles with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Cassie Wall.

Qurnell and Yearta got the second point with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Jill Dasha and Jessica Shaver.

And Murphy, at No. 3 singles, got the deciding point with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Courtney White.

Harvin and Lamon at No. 2 doubles were leading 6-2, 4-1 when the Lady Packers clinched.

At No. 2 singles, Clark was trailing Elise Reyes 4-6, 2-4.

Newnan advanced with a 3-0 victory over Tift County in its first-round match.

“The girls are sad,” Berl said. “There are a lot of tears. But I’m proud of these girls.”

And the Lady Packers, especially the five seniors, have much to be proud of themselves.

Over the last four seasons, the Colquitt County girls have compiled a record of 69-15-1 and have won four straight Region 1-AAAAA championships.

In 2003 and 2004, Colquitt also won two postseason matches before being eliminated. Starr’s Mill ousted the Lady Packers both times. Last year, however, Colquitt’s girls won over Savannah Arts 5-0, East Coweta 4-1 and Glynn Academy 3-2 to reach the Final Four.

Once at the Stone Mountain Tennis Center, the Lady Packers were eliminated by Walton, which went on to defeat Chattahoochee 3-0 for the state championship.

Jacobs and Qurnell were starters for the Lady Packers all four seasons. Both will continue to play tennis at Abraham Baldwin College next season.

Yearta is heading to Young Harris College to continue her career.

Murphy also had an outstanding season, finishing with an 18-2 record. She was undefeated in Region 1-AAAAA matches.

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