GCA tennis dominates in Region Championship

Published 5:03 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The GICAA Division IIA East region tennis tournament was held April 10 at East Georgia State College in Swainsboro. The tournament included the following schools: Grace Christian Academy of Bainbridge, Fullington Academy of Pinehurst, David Emanuel Academy of Stillmore, The Habersham School of Savannah, Faith Christian Academy of Waynesboro, John Hancock Academy of Sparta, Nathanael Greene Academy of Siloam, and Vidalia Heritage Academy of Vidalia.

When all the tennis play was completed, the Grace Christian Academy varsity girls walked away with a region championship and the GCA varsity boys walked away as region runner-ups. Both teams advance to state team tournament on April 24 at the Clayton County Tennis Center in Jonesboro.

Caroline Wells won the region championship in girls singles. Clay Wells won the region championship in boys’ singles. Gavyn Albritton was region runner-up in boys singles.

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Olivia Penela/Sarah Beth Griffin finished 3rd place in region, girls doubles. Abby Mills/Kate McRae were 4th in region, girls doubles. Jeb Smith/Chasen Wood, 4th place in region, boys doubles. These players also qualified for the state individual tournament to be held at Berry College in Rome on April 17.

After receiving a first round bye, Caroline Wells defeated Claire Thompson from Fullington Academy 6-0, 6-0, in her first round of play. The quarter final round saw Wells defeating Laila Mercer from David Emanuel by a score of 6-1, 6-2.  In the semifinal round, Caroline won 6-1, 6-2 again against Natalie Morris from Faith Christian Academy. 

In a late night final round against Lauren Adams of Vidalia Heritage, Caroline emerged the region champ in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.

In boys singles play, Clay Wells defeated Bryson Henriott of Vidalia Heritage in the second round 6-0, 6-0, after receiving a first round bye as the boys one seed. He then defeated

Adam Grubb of Faith Christian 6-1, 6-4. In the semifinal, he faced Elliott Sammons of Vidalia Heritage and defeated him by a score of 6-2,6-2, setting up a match with teammate Gavin Albritton for the boys championship. 

Gavin Albritton beat Abel Martin of Habersham 6-1, 6-2 in the first round. In the second round, he faced Whit Sikes of Vidalia Heritage, and defeated him 6-2, 6-0. In the semifinals, Albritton defeated Hunter Via of Faith Christian 6-4, 6-3, advancing to the finals against teammate Clay Wells.

Having two players from the same school face off in the boys singles championship is not something that happens very often, but that is exactly what happened last week.

The finals were hard fought, but when the match was over, Wells came out the region champ, but only after having split sets 7-6, 2-6, and winning the tiebreaker 10-3.

Other ladies singles’ play saw senior Carly Godwin winning her first 2 rounds of play against Nease of David Emmanuel & Webb of Nathanael Greene before being defeated in the quarterfinal round by Madison Retiger of The Habersham School.  Freshman Brooke Tobin was the #3 singles player for the GCA Cougars.

Branch Austinson, the #3 singles players for the boys’ team also won in his first round against Grant Bear from Nathanael Greene Academy before being defeated in the next round of play against Hunter Via of Faith Christian Academy.

In girls doubles play, the team of Olivia Penela and Sarah Beth Griffin won their first round match over team Grohs/Austin of John Hancock 6-0, 6-0 before facing team McIntire/Sanders from Fullington. Pinela/Griffin had no trouble advancing 6-1, 6-2, but lost in the semifinals to the Patterson/Coleman team from David Emanuel.

The girls doubles team of Kate McRae and Abby Mills had a bye in the first round, and easily won the second round set against Johnson/Garner of John Hancock, 6-1, 6-1, but dropped the next match to Paye/Mills from Faith Christian.

In boys doubles, Thad Whittaker and Mason Duke dropped their first match to Patel/Kehayes from Fullington, but Jeb Smith and Chason Wood handily defeated their first round opponents, Turner/Martin from Habersham 6-0, 6-0, but lost to Faith’s Chamberlain/Corbett in the second round.