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Saturday May 15th, 2021 5:29PM

Tennis: Area teams look for playoff spots as region tourneys get under way

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

Northeast Georgia area tennis teams will begin the real quest for state playoff berths this week as region tournaments will take center court. 

The first round of the state tournament does not begin until April 20th. But area teams will begin jockeying for playoff spots and positioning to get ready.

Region 8-5A is still wrapping up its regular season and will not hold its tournament until April 13-14 at Apalachee High School.

Of those that will start, Region 8-4A is the only one involving area teams that will not finish its tournament this week. Region 8-4A will hold the first round on Tuesday with the semifinals and finals on April 12.

The Flowery Branch girls come in as the top seed while the Branch boys are the No. 2 seed and both earned automatic bids into next month's state playoffs.

After having a solid run snuffed out last season by COVID, the Lady Falcons in particular are looking forward to the playoffs.

“Spring playoff tennis is very fun, and we are thrilled to be back, especially since we were stopped last year on a run,” said Branch girls coach Ginger Jackson, who earned her 200th victory as coach on Monday. “We are ready and I am excited for my seniors to be able to end this year on our terms.

“We are a No. 1 seed, but it will be a fight. When we played (No. 2 seed) North Oconee during the season, it was very close and No. 3 singles decided it. However, we have to get a win in the semifinals first, which is our first focus.”

For the girls, in first round action Chestatee will take on Jefferson and East Hall will take on Madison County with the winners earning playoff bids. On the boys side, East Hall and Jefferson will play for a spot as will Madison County and Chestatee.

But all of the qualifiers will have to wait until next month to determine their seeding.

In Region 8-6A, the two-day tournament will be held at Buford City Park. Both Buford teams come in as No. 1 seeds with automatic berths into the state tournament. Both Habersham Central teams come in as No. 5 seeds and both will play Winder-Barrow trying to qualify for the state tournament.

The first round and semifinals are set for Tuesday. The championship match and third-place match will be held on Wednesday.

Buford coach Sean Gilbert said a tough early schedule has both his teams ready for tournament time.

“We played a tough early season and we believe it has prepared us for a very challenging state tournament,” Gilbert said. “I’m proud of the progress they have all made this year. We’re looking for all our kids to play their best tennis of the season.”

The Region 7-3A tournament will be held at Lumpkin County High School and Yahoola Park beginning on Tuesday with the first round and semifinals. The finals are scheduled for Wednesday.

The Cherokee Bluff boys and the Lumpkin County girls took the top seeds and both earned automatic bids into the state tournament. The other six teams on both sides will battle for the other three playoff spots.

For the boys, White County will take on Gilmer; North Hall will take on Dawson County; and Lumpkin County and West Hall will play for a playoff spot.

On the girls side, Dawson County will take on North Hall; White County plays Gilmer; and Cherokee Bluff and West Hall also will tangle for a playoff spot.

The Region 6-7A tournament will be a three-day affair at Fowler Park in Cumming. The opening round will be Tuesday and Wednesday with the championships set for Thursday.

The Gainesville boys, seeded sixth, will take on South Forsyth on Wednesday looking to advance to the playoffs. The fifth-seeded Gainesville girls will take on Denmark on Tuesday looking for a playoff berth.

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