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TENNIS: Dawson County programs off to strong seasons as region slate picks up
Grant Ledbetter slices a backhand shot during his match against a Chestatee opponent on Monday, March 6. He has been a strong part of the tennis program's success this season. - photo by Rio White

Dawson County High School’s varsity boys and girls tennis teams are finding success as the 2023 season hits the halfway point, with both teams posting 7-1 records so far.

Most recently, the Tigers opened up their Region 7-3A portion of the schedule with wins against Pickens and West Hall, with a notable non-region win against Chestatee in between. 

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Anchoring Dawson’s success so far has been the stability of the singles players, including Chase Cofield, Grant Ledbetter, Kayleigh Moon and Marlee Gaddis.

All four have continued to progress from last season when they helped lead the programs to top-four finishes in the region and state playoff appearances.

The evolving status of the No. 3 singles lines and the doubles pairings have also displayed important contributions.

On the boys team, Connor Woody has shown his versatility throughout the season by switching between singles and doubles on a regular basis.

While he provides a spark for the Tigers against teams with stronger singles players, Woody has also been a guiding force for many of Dawson’s new doubles players.

Often paired with Ely Hutching, Woody’s skills and leadership will be a focal point for the team’s pursuit of once again qualifying for the Class 3A state playoffs.

Two other players who have shown growing skills this season are Bailey Swafford and Tyler Tangel. 

Swafford, who played a role in last season’s team, has been a go-to option for the third singles line and provides needed depth. 

Tangel has also occasionally played singles matches but has more often spent time as a solid doubles player, forging an increasingly strong pairing with Declan Rhodes.

On the girls team, Amber Horton has solidified herself as the No. 3 singles player, having been largely a doubles player last season.

In recent matches, Bella Hunt has grown some singles experience, filling in while Moon rested with a brief injury.

On the doubles side, Avery Beaty is once again leading the charge, having come off a successful 2022 season paired with Mackenzie Stover.

This time around, her teamwork with freshman Kaley Geraghty has resulted in another winning pairing.

Wendy Castro has also continued her work in doubles from last season, this time pairing up with a rotating cast that has included Macy Clark and Mare Jolie Mayr.

The scheduled match between Dawson County and White County for Thursday, March 9, was postponed due to inclement weather and rescheduled for Wednesday, March 15.

Next week, the Tigers return home for matches against Gilmer on Monday, March 13 and Lumpkin on Tuesday, March 14, before traveling to White County on Wednesday.