The Dawson County High School boys’ tennis team had a tough week. The team lost at Banks County, 4-1, and at home on Senior Night to Rabun County, 3-2.
With the two losses, Dawson’s chance at a Region 8-AA playoff spot have vanished.
Grant Shope and Stephen Johnson won at number two doubles over Adam Hiten and Jacob Blalock of Banks County, by a 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 margin to pick up the only win for the Tigers.
“These guys are fun to watch regardless, but after losing our first four matches of the night, to win this long overtime match was great,” said Head Coach Chris Lundy.
“Despite the loss to probably the best team we’ve played, I’m encouraged and so are the guys. Its the best we’ve played. When I went to shake Cameron’s (Milholland) hand after the match, the first thing he said was: ‘That’s the best I’ve ever played.’ As a coach, it’s rewarding when an athlete starts to see value in even a loss and look deeper than just at the wins and losses,” Lundy added.
The match against Rabun County on Thursday was played under adverse weather conditions. Despite the windy and cold conditions, the Tigers played a competitive and exciting match.
Dawson fell behind 2-0 after Cameron Milholland and Lane Venters lost close matches: 2-6, 4-6 and 4-6, 4-6, respectively. The visiting Wildcats were only one win away from clinching a place in the region tournament.
Spencer Roper got the Tigers on the board with a 7-5, 7-6 win in a very close match.
“I was very happy for him and his win kept us alive,” Lundy said.
It was up to the number one doubles team to tie the match. Lundy paired up Jon Branson and Tyler Stoaks, who had never played doubles together, to play the match.
“I had complete confidence in Tyler and was happy to play him in what could potentially be his last match as a senior. Unfortunately, when you throw a doubles team together, as good as they are individually, chemistry between players takes time to develop,” Lundy said.
The team lost the first set, but bounced back to take the second set. The season came down to the final set and despite a great effort, Branson and Stoaks dropped the set. The loss clinched a playoff spot for Rabun County.
Steven Johnson and Grant Shope played at second doubles, despite the match already being determined, and won a one-set match, 6-2.
“I’m really proud of my 10 guys that stuck it our for the season and look forward to recognizing their efforts at our upcoming banquet.,” Lundy said.
The Tigers honored three seniors: Jon Branson, Stephen Johnson and Tyler Stoaks.
“Jon is a four-year veteran and played doubles this year. If you’re not able to return his serve, you better get out of the way or it will take your head off.
Stephen was playing tennis for the first time. He brought a real competitiveness from his experience as a basketball player. He just validates the argument that you can take an athlete and make them competitive in any sport. Stephen is a great kid and will be missed. Tyler is a four-year veteran and played in our biggest match of the season against Rabun. He is a great guy and I’m very proud of him for stepping up in a big way in his final match,” Lundy said.