THE JEFFERSON girls’ tennis team saw its championship mettle tested in last week’s region finals and responded as champions do.
The Lady Dragons outlasted Washington-Wilkes 3-2 last Wednesday with the no. 2 doubles duo of Rheagan Wessels and Kadi Perry winning a third-set tie-breaker to clinch the victory and the 8-AA title.
“That’s who I’d put my money on,” coach Mike Paul said. “They have huge hearts — huge hearts. It could have gone either way.”
Wessels and Perry took the match 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (7-3). Down 6-5 in the third set, the duo rallied to win the last game to force the tiebreaker. Wessels and Perry then jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the tiebreaker en route to winning.
“That’s the kind of players they are,” Paul said of the doubles’ team’s clutch play. “They work hard everyday at practice.”
Jefferson also received victories from Cailyn Diianni, who won 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 at no. 1 singles, and the no. 1 doubles team of Olivia Yates and Charlie Beatty, who won 6-1, 6-1.
“Cailyn Diianni wins a tiebreaker (in the first set) and then comes back and wins 6-0 in the second — just awesome,” Paul said.
Jefferson, which hosted the region tournament, reached the finals thanks to a 3-0 win over Social Circle. Winning those matches were Diianni (6-0 6-0), Yates and Beatty (6-0, 6-0) and Wessels and Perry (6-0, 6-0).
Diianni, Abi Muesse, Yates, Beatty, Wessels and Perry were all named all-region first team.
“I can’t say enough about this group,” Paul said. “They fought hard. They stumbled a little bit here at two and three (singles) in that match (against Washington-Wilkes) … But these kids are tough. They’re match tough.”
Jefferson hosts no. 4 seed GAC today (Wednesday) at 3:30 p.m. in the first round of the state tournament.
•BOYS’ TEAM TAKES SECOND: The Jefferson boys’ tennis team just missed out on a region title, losing to Riverside 3-2 Thursday in the 8-AA finals.
Two of the Dragons’ defeats were three-set losses while Jefferson got wins at no. 1 singles from Gage Thompson (6-4, 6-0) and no. 3 singles from Jackson Howard (6-3, 6-0).
The Dragons reached the region finals by beating Rabun County 3-0, getting wins from Thompson (6-0, 6-1), Howard (6-1, 6-4) and the doubles team of Justin Harrison and Nathaniel Trawick (6-4, 6-1).
Thompson, Harrison and Trawick were named all-region first team. Jordan Tyler and Jackson Howard were second-team selections.
Jefferson hosts no. 3 seed GAC today (Wednesday) in the first round of the state tournament. The teams will play following the girls matchup between Jefferson and GAC which starts at 3:30 p.m.