The big story of the month of May was the run by the Spalding Jaguars boys tennis team, which was in the midst of its best season ever.
The talented Jags beat some very formidable teams in the Class AAA state tennis tournament, making it to the Class AAA state semifinals, only to lose 3-0 to No. 2 state-ranked North Springs at The Beach in Jonesboro.
“They [North Springs] were the second-ranked team in the state behind [defending state champion] Woodward Academy, so we knew we had our hands full coming in,” Jaguars head coach Greg Crawford said at the time.
It showed as Spalding No. 1 singles player Brett Piland lost 6-1, 6-2 before the No. 1 doubles team of Daniel Blake and Andrew Winter also lost 6-1, 6-2. The deciding team point came when Hez Apperson lost 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2 singles at which time Spalding’s No. 2 doubles team of Ben Eady and Barrett Lavender was pulled from the court in a match they were trailing 6-4.
The Jags No. 3 singles player, Colby Willis, never even made it onto the court.
Still, Crawford couldn’t help but be overjoyed by the season his team had. The Spalding boys team not only won its second region championship in school history and first since 2006, it also far eclipsed any of its predecessors by going at least four rounds deep into the state tournament — well ahead of the team’s previous best run of two rounds set in 2002 and matched in 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011.
Crawford saw the loss to North Springs less as an ending and more as a beginning for a team that returns every player next season.
“With the experience being new for our guys and as young as our guys are, it was a different atmosphere,” he said. “We learned a lot from it and I expect us to be back again next year.”
Other noteworthy area events in the month of May:
*Tim Beckham, former Griffin High baseball star and No. 1 overall pick of the 2008 MLB draft, tested positive for marijuana while playing for the Tampa Bay Rays’ Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls, and received a 50-game suspension.
*The Spalding Jaguars baseball team made it to the second round of the sate playoffs (falling to the Carrollton Trojans) and had 8 players named to the Region 4-AAA All-Region team.
*Spalding senior Dominique Nock finished third in the long jump, 100 and 200-meter dashes in the state track and field championships.