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TENNIS: Lady Tigers secure Senior Night win over Lumpkin, both teams win road test at White County
Senior Kayleigh Moon won an important region match against Lumpkin on Senior Night, helping improve the Lady Tigers to a 10-1 overall record. - photo by Rio White

Dawson County’s varsity tennis program recently faced one of its most challenging stretches of the season, with three consecutive days of matches against Region 7-3A opponents last week.

After both the boys and girls teams defeated Gilmer on Monday, March 15, the Lady Tigers put together their best performance of the season the next day on Senior Night against Lumpkin, winning four of five matches.

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Leading the way — as she has so often done — was senior Kayleigh Moon, who has been making the most of her final season as the team’s No. 1 singles player.

With the region tournament fast approaching, Moon’s 6-1, 6-1 win against her Lumpkin opponent was a strong foundation for the remainder of the season, which will become increasingly competitive.

And for the team, the overall effort earned the Lady Tigers a 4-0 record in region competition — and a bit of revenge against a Lady Indians team that narrowly beat Dawson in last season’s region tournament third-place matchup. 

Junior singles player Marlee Gaddis followed up Moon’s win with a victory of her own, pushing through a challenging first set to win 7-5, 6-2.

The doubles pairing of Avery Beaty and Kaley Geraghty continued to improve its rhythm against Lumpkin, winning 6-4, 6-2 to give Dawson the overall win at that point.

But the two tightest matches of the night were still to come, with the final singles and doubles matches each going to three sets.

No. 3 singles player Amber Horton gained valuable experience in an eventual loss, falling 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. Horton, who took over the third singles line from Blake Smith, will have an important role to play at the region tournament, especially if matches are split against opponents.

Bringing in the fourth team point for Dawson against Lumpkin was the doubles pairing of Wendy Castro and Macy Clark, who faced a prolonged match of their own. 

After dropping the first set, the Lady Tigers duo held their ground in the following two sets to win 4-6, 7-6, 7-6.

On the boys side, the Tigers faced an improved Lumpkin team that was also their opponent in last season’s third-place region tournament game. 

This time around, Lumpkin won the rivalry matchup four matches to one.

Junior Chase Cofield lost at No. 1 singles 2-6, 3-6, and will be looking to use that experience as fuel for the remainder of the season. Cofield helped clinch the No. 3 region seed for Dawson last season and will be called upon again at this year’s region tournament.

Fellow junior Grant Ledbetter got Dawson on the board with a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 2 singles, giving himself strong momentum heading into the final stretch of the season.

Meanwhile, the doubles pairing of Connor Woody and Ely Hutching had early success in their match before ultimately falling 7-5, 2-6, 2-6.

The tightest overall match of the night occurred over at No. 3 singles, with Bailey Swafford narrowly losing 6-1, 5-7, 6-7. Swafford will also play an important role at the region tournament, with him and Connor Woody both playing well in singles and doubles.

Dawson County traveled up to Cleveland Wednesday night to face White County in the penultimate region match of the season. The boys rebounded with a 5-0 sweep of the Warriors while the Lady Tigers won all but one match to win 4-1. 

The girls team now stands at a 10-1 overall record with a 5-0 region mark, while the boys have a 9-2 record with a 4-1 region mark.

Next week, Dawson will face non-region opponents Gainesville and Flowery Branch on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, before wrapping up the regular season at Wesleyan on Thursday, March 23.