MACON – Three teams and three state trophies.
“We did as well as we possibly could have,” Bulloch Academy head tennis coach Joe Blakenbaker said Monday after the Gator doubles teams came away with major hardware in the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) Class AA Final Four state individual tennis championships today at the John Drew Smith Tennis Center.
Seniors Kate Anna Akins and Mary Catherine Spigener captured the girls’ state championship while senior Paul Son and junior Brandon Walker won the boys’ title. Senior Morgan Anderson and sophomore McKenzie Webb claimed the girls’ runner-up trophy.
“It feels really, really great,” said Akins. “We had a hard bracket on the first day of the state tournament last week so it was really exciting to come out with a victory today.”
The state title is the second for Akins, who was one-half of the 2007 state championship girls’ doubles team.
“I was a freshman playing with senior Kacie Lanier,” said Akins. “She was awesome. Today, as a senior, I was playing with my best friend (Spigener). Winning the state championship in both my freshman and senior years is kinda cool. It’s especially sweet for Mary C. and I because it’s our senior year and we wanted to go out with a victory.”
For Son, who just recently signed a scholarship to play college basketball at Georgia College and State University, it’s been a busy month.
“I’m really thankful and excited for all of the opportunities,” said Son. “It feels good. All of the hard work that Brandon and I have done has paid off. We peaked at the right time.”
The teams started off the Final Four Monday morning.
In the girls’ semi-final matches, Akins/Spigener whipped Katie Woodruff and Karrington Smith from Strong Rock Christian School 6-3, 6-0. Anderson/Webb downed Frederica Academy’s Jessie Beene and Ellie Hough 6-4, 6-1. In the boys’ semi-final match, Son and Walker defeated The Heritage School’s Grayson Parker and Trey Wheat 6-4, 6-0.
The Lady Gator victories set up an all-Bulloch Academy championship match.
“That really wasn’t fun,” said Akins. “We’ve been playing together all year long and we’re all such good friends.”
Still, someone has to win and someone has to lose and Akins/Spigener beat Anderson/Webb 6-2, 6-2 for the state title.
“It was kind of hard beating your own teammates,” said Akins, “but it speaks volumes for Bulloch Academy’s tennis program that we had both doubles teams in the state championship match.”
In the boys’ championship match, Son and Walker were pushed to three sets by Frederica’s Alan Clarkson and Wilson Elias.
“We lost the first set 6-4,” said Son. “Then we settled down and started playing better.”
The Gator duo finally prevailed 4-6, 6-1, 6-0.
“The kids, the parents and the coaches were all very excited at the end of the day,” said BA assistant coach Judy Butler. “The teams all played well.”
The Bulloch Academy girls’ team will have the opportunity to win its’ first team title since 1988 Wednesday as they travel to the Class AA team tournament at the Newman Tennis Center in Augusta.