The Madison County boys’ tennis team beat all challengers during the regular season in successfully defending its 8-AAAA North title.
Now, the Red Raiders (12-2, 10-0) have to prove themselves to teams on the other side of the region during this week’s Region 8-AAAA tournament.
Coach Keith Strickland notes that neither his boys’ nor girls’ tennis squads know much about their counterparts from Region 8-AAAA South.
“Having not played any cross-over against the south could have its advantages and disadvantages,” Strickland said. “At this point, we all are relying on stats to give us some insight into what we can expect. The real test will be on the court.”
That test starts at 1:30 p.m. today (Thursday) for the boys’ squad.
Heritage has earned the no. 1 seed out of the South subregion, while Loganville is no. 2. Strickland said he expects the Red Raiders to see Loganville in the semifinals, “even though Winder-Barrow could give them a run in the quarters.”
Regardless of who the Red Raiders play, the team has its sights set on a successful postseason run.
Strickland said that applies to both his boys’ and girls’ teams.
“We’re pleased with having won the North subregion championships,” Strickland said. “But we have our sights on going deep in the region tournament and making the state playoffs.”
The Madison County boys wrapped up an undefeated regular season in subregion play by coasting to a 5-0 victory over Habersham Central Monday.
The Red Raiders won all five positions in straight sets.
The team’s previous match, however, proved to be a much greater chore.
With a makeshift lineup, Madison County cliched the 8-AAAA North title with a 4-1 victory over Apalachee Friday.
The Red Raiders earned wins at no. 2 and no. 3 singles and both doubles positions to secure their second-straight subregion title.
“The boys had to play under a little pressure as we had to make several last minute line-ups changes due to an injury to (no. 1 singles player) Trey Morris,” Strickland said.
Jeffrey Branson and Blaise Boleman both moved up one singles position and Connor Hancock was moved from no. 2 doubles to no. 3 singles. Connor Boyett filled in at Hancock’s spot at no. 2 doubles.
After falling behind 5-2 in the first set in each of their matches, Boleman and Hancock rallied to win those sets and later the matches.
“This turnaround boosted their confidence and helped them to much easier second set wins,” Strickland said.
Madison County squeaked out a tight win at no. 2 doubles (Jake Scarborough and Chris Dove) but coasted to an easy win at no. 2 doubles (Josh Dooley and Boyett).
Pitted against Apalachee’s no. 1 singles player, Branson (who usually plays no. 2 singles) fell in a three-set match.
“Jeffrey Branson played the best tennis in the first set and the beginning of the second set going up 6-3, 4-1,” Strickland said. “At that point, a few loose points cost him the advantage and his opponent gained enough confidence to pull off the win.”