AFTER A lengthy layoff, the Jefferson High School tennis season hinges on a few hours worth of tennis this Thursday.
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams have state tournament berths on the line Thursday morning when they take to the courts at North Oconee High School. Each needs one victory to qualify for the Class AA postseason.
The boys face Region 8-AA North no. 3 seed Rabun County at 9 a.m. The girls draw Region 8-AA no. 2 seed Dawson County at 10:30 a.m.
The Jefferson boys – who advanced to the Class AA Elite Eight a year ago – are reigning Region 8-AA champions. All matches that follow the opening round – should the Jefferson teams advance far – determine state tournament seedings and the Region 8-AA champion.
Both squads will be returning after a 16-day gap in action.
Largely due to spring break, neither Jefferson squad has played since March 29. The teams have been scattered far and wide since then. In fact, some seniors were on a school-related tour of European countries until Tuesday, meaning they’ll have only been back in the U.S. for two days when the region tournament starts.
“But they’re young,” coach Mike Paul said. “They’re resilient.”
Neither Jefferson team has played their first-round region opponents, nor do they have any information these foes.
Should the boys win, they would face North no. 1 seed Banks County in the second round at noon. If the girls prevail, they’ll face South top seed North Oconee at 1:30 p.m.
The Region 8-AA tournament will be an all-day event. The finals are slated for 4:30 p.m.
The first round of the state tournament begins next week. The representatives from Region 8-AA will take on teams from the private-school heavy Region 6-AA.
Several Jefferson players, particularly those in singles play, head into the region tournament following stellar regular seasons.
No. 1 and 2 boys’ singles players Zach Bost and Blair Buffington are unbeaten, while no. 3 singles player Ben Daniel has just one loss. On the girls side, no. 3 singles player Tristan McGarity is undefeated, while no. 1 singles player Bell Blankenship has only two losses. No. 3 singles player Taylor Bost has only three losses.