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Harlem boys win region tennis title

Posted: April 16, 2017 - 1:02am
The Harlem boys tennis team recently won the Region 4-AA championship. Pictured are (front row, from left): Coach Wilmer Davis, Calvin Clayson, Parker Powell, Will Simons, Christopher Stegent and Austin Wilkerson. Back row (from left): Griffin Fanning, George Wurst, Davis Simons, Jacob Perry and Owen Fanning.
The Harlem boys tennis team recently won the Region 4-AA championship. Pictured are (front row, from left): Coach Wilmer Davis, Calvin Clayson, Parker Powell, Will Simons, Christopher Stegent and Austin Wilkerson. Back row (from left): Griffin Fanning, George Wurst, Davis Simons, Jacob Perry and Owen Fanning.

Senior twins Griffin and Owen Fanning said the last time Harlem won a region championship in tennis, their father, Steve, was on the team.

The Bulldogs ended their long drought recently when they defeated Screven County, 3-1, to claim the Region 4-AA championship.

"Ever since I've been playing, I don't think we've ever beaten Screven," Owen said. "My last match as a senior in the region tournament, I thought it was great to finally beat them."

Harlem will now play host to Bacon County at 1 p.m. Monday at Patriots Park in the opening round of the state tournament. The winner will advance to play the Washington-Rabun County winner in the second round.

"I knew how we played last year that this would be an awesome year," Bulldogs coach Wilmer Davis said. "It feels great, especially when you see how they progress along. They now have a hunger and thirst for it. They definitely want it more."

Harlem's led by the Fannings - the team's only seniors - who play singles along with junior Jacob Perry. Junior George Wurst and sophomore Austin Wilkerson play No. 1 doubles, while junior Davis Simons and freshman Will Simons play No. 2 doubles.

Also on the team are Christopher Stegent (sophomore), Parker Powell (freshman) and Calvin Clayson (freshman).

Harlem's tennis team saw a revitalization with its middle school program. As the high school squad had trouble with its numbers, the middle schoolers came up and helped developed the varsity squad.

When the Fannings were underclassmen, Harlem had to forfeit matches because it didn't have enough players. Last year, the team made the state playoffs. This year, the Bulldogs enter postseason play as a No. 1 seed.

"We've come a long way," said Griffin, who started playing the sport in sixth grade. "We've got a lot more players. We've won a lot more matches."

Owen added, "We've got a really good team environment. We're all really good friends. We've all bonded together."

After losing to Screven County during the regular season, Harlem made adjustments to its lineup. After the Bulldogs defeated Davidson in the region semifinals, they met their old nemesis again. This time, Harlem got its revenge.

Owen Fanning defeated Mason Oglesby, 6-1, 6-2. Perry defeated Bradley Marten, 6-2, 6-1.

Despite the Bulldogs falling in the No. 1 doubles match, the Simons brothers defeated Caleb Collins and Logan Boswell, 6-0, 6-4 in No. 2 doubles. Griffin Fanning didn't complete his match.

Like the boys team, the varsity girls program has found success this season. The Lady Bulldogs are going to the state playoffs for the first time in a while as a No. 3 seed.

The Harlem girls have no seniors and just one junior (Ashlynn Keller). The rest of the team is comprised of three sophomores (Katy Arrowood, Lexie McKinnon and Chloe Collins) and four freshmen (Summerstar Stegent, Courtney Briscoe, and twins Kaylee and McKay Fanning)

 

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