TIFTON -- There is going to be a surprise team in the finals of the 22nd Annual Rotary Club Tennis Tournament this morning.
After going 2-0 Friday, the Tift County Blue Devils will play for the tournament title at 9:30 this morning at the Abraham Baldwin College courts.
It will be the first time since 1998 that Tift has played for the Rotary Club title. The Devils have not won the title since 1993.
On the girls side, the Lady Devils went 1-1 on the first day of the tournament. Tift will play for fifth place at the Tift County High courts this morning. That match is also set to begin at 9:30.
"I am just tickled to death about the boys," said Tift County coach Jim Clayton. "They are also happy and tickled about playing for the championship.
"This is very surprising for us. I hope it is a sign of things to come."
Tie-breakers were the key for the Devils.
In its two matches, Tift defeated Screven 4-0 and Ware Magnet 4-1. Four of those wins came as a result of tie-breaker wins.
"Those were big for us. We fought hard and managed to pull out the wins," said Clayton.
The Devils opened up with Screven County, last year's champion.
"With Screven, we were behind the eight ball right off the bat, but we responded well," said Clayton.
Jarred Sauls won at number two singles, 6-3, 6-2, and the number two doubles team of Jay Lawler and Russ Vann was victorious, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.
The other two matches came down to the tie-breakers.
After losing his first set at number three singles, 1-6, John Bowen responded with a 6-1 win in the second set. Bowen then won the tie-breaker 7-2.
At number one doubles, Bo Gray and Daniel Eriksen won their first set 6-4. After falling in the second set 2-6, the Tift duo responded with a 7-4 win in the tie-breaker.
Against Ware Magnet, Jacob Sauls won at number one singles, 7-5, 6-3. Lawler and Vann was also victorious, 6-0, 6-0, at number two doubles.
Jarred Sauls at number two singles went to a tie-breaker for his win, 6-1, 3-6, (7-2). Then at number one doubles, Gray and Eriksen won 6-1, 3-6, (7-4).
With their wins Friday, the two Tift doubles teams each went to 7-0 on the year.
Tift will play Colquitt County for the tournament title this morning. Colquitt defeated Bainbridge 3-2 to advance to the finals.
While the Devils had big tie-breaker wins, the same was not true for the Lady Devils.
Tift lost three tie-breakers in a 4-1 loss to Vidalia. The Lady Devils bounced back with a 4-0 win over Ware Magnet.
Becky Alt won both of her matches at number one singles for Tift. She defeated her Vidalia opponent, 6-3, 6-4. Alt then came back to get a 6-4, 6-2 win against Ware Magnet.
Other winners against Ware Magnet were Sarah Dutcher, 6-1, 6-3 at number three singles; Amanda Lawler and Rachel Lawler at number one doubles, 6-2, 6-3; and Claire Slocum and Marcy Shiver, 6-4, 6-2.
Tift will play Bainbridge this morning for fifth palce.
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TIFTON [mdash] Betty Rose Shivers Sumner, 87, of Tifton passed away Saturday, January 9, 2021, at Tift Regional Medical Center. A graveside funeral service will be held for Mrs. Sumner at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 13, 2021, at Leila United Methodist Church Cemetery in Omega, where she wil…