TIFTON – The Colquitt County middle school boys ‘and girls’ tennis teams both finished as runners-up in the Southwest Georgia Big Five Athletic Conference tournament held Monday at Tift County High School.
The girls entered the tournament as the second-ranked team, with a 5-1 conference record (8-1 overall). They defeated Lowndes 4-0 and Tifton 3-0 to earn their way into the championship match versus Coffee.
With the opportunity to avenge their only conference loss of the season, the young Lady Packers played extremely close matches up and down the lineup, but fell 3-1.
The 3-seed, Elizabeth Redding, earned the only point for Colquitt County in the final.
The boys entered the day as the top-ranked team, 6-0 in the conference (8-1 overall).
They got a bye in the first round, and had a tough matchup against Hahira in round two. The young Packers scored an early point from the doubles team of Harrison Sims and Parker Anderson, but the Vikings scored two points in singles matches.
This left the fate of the match in the hands of eighth-grade singles player Jack Taunton and the duo of sixth-grader Harrison Lampman and seventh-grader Ivan Dong.
Lampman and Dong split the first two sets and needed to score 10 points (and win by 2) in a tie-breaking third set to earn a point for the team.
The Hahira doubles team fought to a 9-4 advantage, needing only one more point to seal the match for the Vikings.
Lampman and Dong, though, would not be denied, as they scored five straight points to tie the score at 9.
They fell behind one more time at 10-9, but then reeled off three straight points in the clutch to claim victory for the Packers.
That point knotted the team score at 2-2, and attention returned to the singles court and Taunton.
Just seconds after Taunton heard the roar of the Packer faithful, he served out his match and claimed the final point needed for a hard-fought 3-2 team victory, earning the boys a spot in the finals against Tift County.
In the final match of the day, all the matches were extremely close. Tift earned two points in singles, and Joshua Scroggins earned a point in singles for the Packers.
One Packers doubles team had a lead, but in the other doubles match Tift won in a tie-breaker third set to earn their third team point and claim the conference championship.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these kids – they have worked so hard this season, and all 18 of our players have improved so much as the season has gone on,” Coach Tatum Shivers said. “My hat’s off to them. We were hoping to win two championships today and that didn’t quite happen, but they represented their families and our community so very well and the future of tennis in Colquitt County is very bright. ”
In the girls’ match against Lowndes, winners were: Clara Newton, Julia Costin and Redding in singles and Allie Grace Rowley and Frances Bius in doubles. The doubles team of Laura Gonzalez and Arlin Smith got a no-decision.
In the girls’ match against Tift, winners were: Costin, Newton, and Rowley and Bius. Newton and the doubles team of Gonzalez and Smith got no-decisions.
In the Coffee match, Redding won her matchup.
In the boys’ match against Hahira, Taunton won singles and the doubles teams of Sims and Anderson won, as well as the doubles team of Lampman and Dong.
In the Tift match, Scroggins won his matchup.
The middle school tennis teams have one more opportunity to compete, as Thomasville visits Packer Park on Wednesday, March 23.