The Jefferson High School boys’ tennis team is entering one of the final weeks of the regular season with a 3-2 region 8-AA record, with three contests to go. The Dragons record overall is 5-4.
The team is in second place, behind Riverside Military Academy, which is undefeated at 8-0.
Most recently, the Dragons edged Social Circle 3-2 on March 21.
Ian Johnson/Hal Jarrett won a key contest in doubles play (6-0, 6-0), while Nathanial Trawick/Austin Messer dropped a tough match to their opponents 6-0, 4-6, 7-10 (tiebreak).
In singles action, no. 1 Jordan Tyler won (6-0, 6-1) and no. 2 Justin Harrison (6-4, 6-1) took their matches with Wil Roberts 1-6, 4-6 dropping his match despite the second-set fight.
The win against Social Circle was critical since the Dragons have been challenged recently due to some injuries in the lineup, coach Mike Paul said.
Experience is a factor, too, as the boys’ team includes players new to varsity and new to their particular roles on the team this season.
For example, the steady no. 1 and no. 2 players — Jordan Tyler and Jackson Howard — played doubles together last year. And at least one of the doubles teams is new to the lineup.
Paul said assistant coach Fred Gokey has been key in developing the talents.
“We’ve had some illness and injury on the boys side, and our doubles lineup changed throughout the season,” Paul said. “That has hurt us some. Hopefully, we’ll be healthy by Thursday (Washington-Wilkes match).”
Earlier in the week, the Dragons lost to Riverside Military Academy, which is 8-0 and leading the region. Riverside shut out Jefferson 5-0 and took a commanding lead in region 8-AA play.
While Tyler was outgunned (0-6. 1-6) at no. 1 singles, Jackson Howard (4-6, 1-6) and Harrison (3-6, 2-6) managed to win a few games.
Trawick/Roberts (1-6, 3-6) and Messer/Johnson (2-6, 3-6) also competed well.
Riverside Military is in control of region 8-AA, with the Dragons following in second place with region contests against Washington-Wilkes, (March 28), Social Circle (April 9) and Rabun County (April 10) remaining before the region tournament.
The tournament will be held in Jefferson at the Jefferson Middle School courts on April 18. The top four teams qualify for the state tournament with the top two seeds hosting in the first round of the state playoffs.
“The biggest thing about this group is that they are really good kids,” Paul said. “That is a lot of their success. They’ve been very receptive to coaching and work hard at practice. The younger kids are gaining confidence. I think we are getting better and hopefully that is going to show at the region tournaments.”