Valdosta Daily Times

May 7, 2013

Berrien girls’ tennis in Final Four

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

NASHVILLE — It’s been quite the year for the Berrien girls’ tennis program. And today, the Rebels will try to make their season even better.

After clinching a school-record 20th win in the Elite 8 of the Class AA state playoffs Thursday with a 3-1 win over state-power Bleckley County, the Berrien girls will make the schools’ third all-time appearance in the Final Four when they host Westminster today at 3 p.m. in Nashville.

Despite lacking experience, the Berrien girls have posted a 20-3 record this season, going a perfect 8-0 in Region 1-AA and winning the region tennis tournament championship in Valdosta last month at McKey Park.

With two freshmen and two sophomores on the roster, the Rebeletts defeated Putnam County 5-0 in the first round of the state tournament, following it up with a 5-0 win over Vidalia and their impressive 3-1 win over Bleckley County, which had appeared in the state championship match the past seven years.

“It’s been quite a year for us,” head coach Jarrett Luke said. “Our freshmen, sophomores have really stepped up. I was proud.”

The youth is all over the tennis courts for Berrien. The No. 2 doubles team of Logan Griffis, a sophomore, and Skyla Heath, a freshman, have 19 wins this year, while No. 2 singles Madison Heath, a sophomore, has 18 wins.

No. 1 doubles Daryl Ann Boyd, a sophomore, and Hannah Gaskins, a freshman, have 18 wins this year, following their come-from-behind win to clinch the match over Bleckley.

In the match, the girls won the first set 6-3, before losing the second set 3-6. Then, after falling one game away from losing the match and having the team eliminated, Boyd and Gaskins reeled off four straight game victories to win the final set 7-5 and push Berrien into the Final Four.

The victories by the youth added to the wins by the two elder players of No. 1 singles Lolli McMillan, the only junior on the team, and No. 3 singles, senior Kayleigh Hall, who also has 20 wins this season. Both McMillan and Hall were victorious against Bleckley County, winning 6-2, 6-3 and 7-5, 6-4, respectively.

“We have had great support from the community, the school and the administration,” Luke said. “It has been a great year for us.”

Berrien’s appearance in the Final Four is the school’s third all-time appearance, and first since 2003. Berrien also appeared in the Final Four in 2001, but has never appeared in the state championship.

Now, after this impressive season, the Berrien girls are looking to advance to the championship match Saturday in Clayton County.