Augusta Preparatory Day School hosted the tennis tournament, but the Augusta Christian Lions hoisted the trophy.
Augusta Christian player Chris Motes returns a shot against tennis player Melvin Smith of Mt. DeSales Wednesday. They played each other in the boys team finals at the Newman-Augusta Tennis Center.
Photo by Annette M. Drowlette
In fact, perennial Georgia Independent Schools Association tennis powerhouse Augusta Prep wasn't even competing in the GISA State Team Tournament, which was held Wednesday at Newman Tennis Center.
The event featured region champions in Class AA and AAA, and earlier this season Augusta Christian's girls and boys teams topped Prep to take the Region 4-AAA crowns.
The Lady Lions were eliminated from state title contention after losing to Deerfield-Windsor in the semifinals, but the Lions swept past Deerfield 3-0 in the semis, then topped Mount de Sales 4-1 in the finals.
The state championship marked a changing of the guard in Columbia County, as Augusta Christian officially ended Augusta Prep's reign as king of the courts.
And that wasn't the only switch.
AC coach Mike Giddens shuffled his lineup, using two-time defending GISA state doubles champions Nathan Tingen and Joseph Tingen at singles in the state team tournament.
The Tingens and Chris Motes blew away their opponents in singles, and their wins against Mount de Sales clinched the championship before the doubles matches were completed.
Even with the outcome decided, AC's Troy Freeman and Richard Holley showed some Lion pride by gutting out a three-set victory to set the final 4-1 margin.
The state team title capped a banner campaign for the Lions.
"We have two new players this year (Motes and Freeman), and the rest of us have all gotten better," Joseph Tingen said. "We had more depth this season, so I thought we'd take it."
Nathan Tingen graduates this year, but his brother Joseph is just a sophomore, Freeman is a freshman and Motes is only in eighth grade. Motes played No. 1 singles in 2002, and his only losses were to Augusta Prep senior David Shay.
The Lions may be ready to close the book on the GISA tennis dynasty at Augusta Prep, but for now, AC is content to enjoy the view from the top.
"Our goal was to get here and win it this year. We felt like we were strong enough, everybody just had to want it bad enough," Coach Giddens said. "They were ready. It was our first opportunity to be here, and I think they were hungry for it."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.