This is a big week for the Panther tennis program. In fact, the biggest ever.
The Jackson County boys’ tennis team will face Woodward Academy Monday on the road in the first state tournament match in school history.
The Panthers, who are a no. 4 seed at state, secured their trip to the Class AAA tournament by beating Elbert County, 3-2, Wednesday at the Region 8-AAA tournament with wins from Blake Bingham (no. 1 singles), Dylan McDonald (no. 2 singles) and the team of Sebastian Rendon and Owen O'Steen (no. 1 doubles).
“I am beyond words really,” coach Natalie Peterson said. “To say that I'm proud of them is an understatement.”
Jackson County ended up losing to North Oconee in the region semifinals Thursday and then to Hart County later that day in a match to determine the no. 3 and 4 seeds. Still, the Panthers are headed to state, and Peterson pointed to numerous factors which pushed Jackson County to a historic season: players competing throughout the offseason, playing a tough non-region schedule and consistency in the lineup.
“We set the line up at the beginning of the season and kept it the same throughout region play,” Peterson said.
The coach also noted to the addition of lay coach Marshall Sims, “who added a layer of optimism and worked with the players on strategy and drills.”
Peterson praised the leadership of McDonald, the team’s no. 2 singles player, as well.
“Dylan McDonald pulled this team together at regions, huddling the team up for prayer and encouragement before each match,” she said. “I’ve never seen the team so focused on their game and so supportive of each other.”
JACKSON COUNTY coach Tommy Fountain offered up an interesting stat Monday night following his team’s win over Franklin County. The Panthers are 10-0 when hitting a home run and 5-6 when they don’t.
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