JEFFERSON’S tennis teams start region tournament play next week and both are chasing that prized no. 1 seed for the Class AA state tournament.
The Lady Dragons (8-2) enter as a top seed for the region tournament after going 6-0 in 8-AA play and are the favorites to take the region crown.
“We are the no. 1 seed, and I think we’ve got a good chance to win the tournament if we’ve got everybody healthy and everybody is playing well,” coach Mike Paul said. “That’s certainly our goal.”
The Lady Dragons will host the girls’ region tournament, which is set for Wednesday, April 16. They’ll face the no. 4 seed out of the region, most likely Social Circle.
The boys, however, face a tougher road. Jefferson (10-3) enters the tournament, which is set for Tuesday, April 15 at Riverside Military Academy, as a no. 2 seed. The Dragons went 6-2 in 8-AA play, with both losses coming to regular season champion Riverside.
Jefferson lost 3-2 in the first meeting, and then fell 4-1 in the rematch.
“They made some line-up changes, and we didn’t matchup as well at doubles that time,” Paul said.
Jefferson will open tournament play against the no. 3 seed, which will either be Rabun County or Washington-Wilkes.
The Dragons’ goal is to advance to the region title match and hope the third time is the charm against Riverside — the very likely opponent for the region finals.
“We’re hoping to get that rematch with Riverside — of course, it will be at their courts,” Paul said. “Again, we’re pushing toward that no. 1 seed.”
Paul added: “At this point, we’d like to finish as high as we can in that tournament. We’d like to win it, but we certainly want to get a hosting (seed) at state.”
Both the Jefferson boys and girls will have a tune-up match prior to the region tournament, facing non-region foe Elbert County at home Thursday.
“They played us tough last year and I knew they would be a good matchup for us going into tournament,” Paul said.
While the most important tennis of the year lies ahead, Paul is pleased with the way his teams have performed heading into the region tournaments.
“We’ve had a good year,” Paul said. “We really have. These kids have played well. They’ve worked hard at practice. All that said, it’s a tournament sport, and you’ve got to be good on one day.”