JONESBORO — A pair of Clayton County tennis programs competed for region titles Wednesday afternoon at the Clayton County Tennis Center at International Park.

However, it was DeKalb County’s Tucker High who finished the event as Region 4-AAAAAA champions. The boys program knocked off Jonesboro 5-0 in the finals, while the girls team beat Forest Park by the same score in the other championship match.

Still, both Jonesboro and Forest Park will host first-round matchups in the Class AAAAAA state playoffs next week due to finishing as region runner-ups. Forest Park’s girls, Jonesboro’s girls and both the boys and girls programs from Mundy’s Mill High also qualified for the state tournament.

Tucker’s 5-0 win over Jonesboro in the boys finals was closer than the final score. Jonesboro’s Brandon Walker and Tucker’s Shawn Lunde traded shots at No. 1 singles, with Lunde finally getting the better of his counterpart after two grueling sets.

It was only Walker’s second loss of the season, both of which have come at the hands of Lunde.

“Brandon had a wonderful season this year,” Jonesboro head coach Jerome Dean said. “The only match he lost was to the same young man he lost to today. I really wanted him to avenge that but it was a wonderful match, very competitive. We’re just really looking forward to competing in state.”

Demarco Pittman also played well in a 2-0 loss at No. 3 singles, pushing Tucker’s Malik Shakir deep into games. Usman Jamal beat Jackie Lee 2-0 at No. 2 singles, while Tucker’s team of Revaz Sharma and Carter Foley swept Jonesboro’s Jacob Foster and William Bethel at No. 1 doubles. Tucker’s No. 2 doubles team of Ben Shaver and Justin Thornton also won 2-0, topping the team of Josh Olanivan and Cam’Ron Richardson.

Tucker’s girls, who also entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed, swept Forest Park in the girls final by a score of 5-0. The Lady Panthers were the No. 3 seed in the tournament and upset Jonesboro Wednesday in the semifinals to reach the championship match.

“We came in as the third seed and got through Stephenson, but Jonesboro was our rival this season,” Forest Park co-head coach Angela Arnold said. “The first time we played them on the regular season we won 3-2. It went down to the wire. We played Jonesboro yesterday to reach the finals and fight for the championship and were able to beat them 3-2. It was a very exciting match that came down to our third singles. Fav Nyguen was able to bring the win to us.”

Tucker’s Autumn Clemons, Summer Clemons and Daeylyn Turner were all victorious in singles matches, as was the doubles team of Kelsey Hayes and Sarah Penkava.

Members of the Forest Park team who competed in the finals were My Le, Duyen Ngo, Fav Ngyuen and the teams of Sayda Avitia and Vivi Le and Socorro Parra-Lopez and Nicole Melgarejo. Arnold and William Daprano coached both programs this season.

“We get to host the first round of the state playoffs,” Arnold said. “Last year we ended up playing Tucker in the region championship and came in second, so we were hoping to win it all this year. But, we came in second and I’m very proud of the girls. It was a completely new team. We had a lot of seniors last year, so it was a complete turnover this year where we had basically a team of freshmen and sophomores.”

In the girls third-place match, Jonesboro won 4-1 over Mundy’s Mill. Haylley and Holley Watson, as well as Christea Johnson won 2-0 in singles matches. The team of Da’Jana Mayes and Ashley Bouabvong was also victorious. Mundy’s Mill got a win at No. 1 doubles from the team of Sierra Sutton and Kiki Adblae.

“I’m very excited, the team had a wonderful year,” Dean said. “The boys and girls went into the region tournament both placed No. 2. Unfortunately, the girls fell a little short, but they’ll still go to state and be able to represent Clayton County and the region.”

In the boys third-place match, Forest Park topped Mundy’s Mill by a score of 4-1. Peter Phan and Daniel Terrijo won 2-0 at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, respectively, while the doubles teams of Tam Vo and Henry Tran and Celso Funtes and Jagen Appolinaro were also victorious. Mundy’s Mill’s Hui Ngyuen won 2-0 at No. 1 singles.

The first round of the Class AAAAAA state tournament will begin next week.

Luke Strickland is the sports editor of the Clayton News in Jonesboro and the Henry Herald in McDonough. He went to school at the University of Georgia.

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