Blue Devils win Region 1-6A tennis title

Mar. 20—TIFTON — Tift County's boys tennis team raised the Region 1-6A crown Tuesday, capping off an undefeated run in the conference with the same dominance they carried through the regular season.

"They showed out and they kept getting better and better," said head coach Ivey Vickers of the Blue Devils' shutout over Houston County.

Tift's Lady Devils are second in 1-6A, falling to Houston. The region tournament took place at the Houston County Tennis Facility.

The Blue Devils won, 3-0, with two matches stopped once victory was secured. Both stopped matches had Tift in the lead; Maitrey Patel and the doubles team of Seth Denham and Ross Peters won their first sets.

There was no drama for the boys in the completed matches, all finishing in straight sets. Joshua Hellman won, 6-1, 6-0, Elijah Hellman was a 6-1, 6-2 winner and Matthew Layfield and Tyson Lasseter earned their match, 6-3, 6-2.

Abby Lupo's No. 3 singles victory was the only one on the day for the Lady Devils, who finished 9-1 during the regular season in region play.

Houston won at No. 1 singles and both doubles. Anna Lupo's match at No. 2 singles was not completed.

Tift's Devils are stacked deep with talent, from Patel at No. 1 singles all the way down the line through No. 2 doubles. Vickers said the doubles depth tends to surprise other teams.

"They're playing really well," said Vickers. "They put the time in." Though the Lady Devils won't be No. 1 going into state, Vickers certainly isn't balking at being runners-up. "They outplayed my expectations," she said.

Only two players graduate from the boys. None of the starting lineup for the girls are seniors, Vickers said. Sibling combinations at singles have worked out extremely well, the Lupo sisters and the Hellman brothers.

Tift will play teams from Region 4 in the first round of state. If they make the second round, it would be against teams from Region 2 or 3. They will have several weeks to prepare as the first round's completion date is April 18.

Before they get there, though, the Blue Devils and Lady Devils have two more regular season opponents waiting after spring break, Irwin County and West Laurens.

In Monday's semifinals, it was a narrow win for the Lady Devils over Veterans, 3-2, which featured Tift wins at all three singles spots.

Riley Griffin needed a comeback to win at No. 1. After falling in the first set, 4-6, Griffin won the second, 6-0, then earned the match with a 6-4 victory in the third set.

Anna Lupo won 6-4, 6-1 at No. 2 singles and Abby Lupo was victorious at No. 3, 6-3, 6-4.

Tift battled hard in both doubles matches. Kate Carpenter and Perrin Turner dropped a first set tiebreaker, 7-9, then the second set, 3-6. Kenyaria Morrow and Madison Garner won their second set, 6-2, saw the first and third go to Veterans.

The Blue Devils won over Thomas County Central, 3-0, with two matches not completed after they were assured of the team victory.

Both Joshua Hellman and Elijah Hellman won in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0. Peters and Denham did the same in their match at No. 2 doubles, 6-0, 6-0.

Neither Patel nor the combination of Layfield and Lasseter finished their matches, else it likely would have been a 5-0 Tift win.

After winning their first set, 6-0, Lasseter and Layfield were up 5-0 in the second one. Patel had a 6-0 opening set and, three games into the second set, he led 3-0.