By Jeffery Armstrong
The North Clayton Eagles boys and girls tennis teams did well in the Region 5-AAAA semifinals and finals, finishing second and third overall in matches played at the Atlanta Beach Thursday morning. With victories by both teams on Wednesday, North Clayton will make its first-ever trip to the state tennis tournament.
The North Clayton Lady Eagles team finished in second place, defeating the Southwest DeKalb Lady Panthers in an earlier match before losing 3-2 to the North Atlanta Lady Warriors, the eventual girls region champions. North Clayton freshman Brittney Dean was undefeated on the year (10-0) before losing to North Atlanta's No. 1 singles player Thursday. Sophia Richards (10-2) won both her matches Thursday for the Lady Eagles, 2-0. In girls doubles action, Jasmine Sykes and Che Sutton defeated Southwest DeKalb 2-1.
Since the Lady Eagles finished in the top two in the region, they will host a state tournament match next week.
In boys action, the Eagles lost to the Mays Raiders 3-2, but defeated the Jonesboro Cardinals in the next match to determine the third and fourth seeds in the state tournament. North Clayton, 8-0 in region play during the regular season, will be seeded third and Jonesboro will be seeded fourth; both teams will travel for their state tourney matches.
Maurice Smith (7-1 on the year) won his match and Jason John (10-1) also won his match for the North Clayton boys. In doubles action, Torrin Greene and Carvon Gray lost to Mays 2-1 in their first match, but defeated Jonesboro 2-1 in the next match.
"I'm extremely proud of both teams; they showed a lot of guts and determination to advance to the state tournament," said North Clayton head tennis coach Costy Pawlowski. "They are a very close-knit team."
Jonesboro's No. 3 boys singles player David Paul won his first set against Southwest DeKalb and his first set in a tie-breaker against North Clayton Thursday.
"All of my boys players are competing on the tennis team for the first time and they're excited about making the state tournament," said Jonesboro head coach Jeanine Conkle. "For them to achieve that is a great thing, in my book."