Both teams now advance to second-round matches next week, the boys hosting the Howard-Westover winner likely on Wednesday and the girls traveling to take on No. 6 state-ranked West Laurens on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
The Region 4-AAA champion Jags made quick work of fourth-seeded Thomson, winning the deciding three points in about 20 minutes. The other two matches finished up less than about five minutes later.
Scoring points for the Jags were: Brett Piland (6-0, 6-0) at No. 1 singles, Hez Apperson (6-2, 6-0) at No. 2 singles and Colby Willis (6-0, 6-0) at No. 3 singles as well as Andrew Winter and Daniel Blake (6-0, 6-0) at No. 1 doubles and Barrett Lavender and Ben Eady (6-0, 6-0) at No. 2 doubles.
Scoring points for the two-seeded Lady Jags against three-seeded Grovetown were: Emily Peek (6-0, 6-0) at No. 1 singles, Bea Dallas (6-1, 6-3) at No. 2 singles, and McKenzie Dallas (6-4, 6-0) at No. 3 singles as well as Caroline Hearn and Sara Peek (6-0, 6-0) at No. 1 doubles and Lib Moore and Savannah Edwards (6-0, 6-0) at No. 2 doubles.
Even though they were a two-seed, the Lady Jags had to travel to play because of last-second changes.
It all started when SHS learned Region 4-AAA champion Eagle’s Landing had played an ineligible player at region last week against SHS. Spalding, which had already scheduled its opening-round match against Grovetown minutes after the region 4-AAA finals on Thursday, thought it would be a No. 1 seed and scrambled to change. But when the GHSA ruling came back saying the seeding would remain the same, Grovetown and SHS scrambled to reschedule their match.
By then, however, the earliest Grovetown could schedule — if it came to Griffin — was Thursday. But Spalding, which is on spring break his week, wanted to get the match over with on Tuesday in an effort to give the students on the team as much of an abbreviated spring break as possible.
Grovetown agreed to play on Tuesday, but only on one condition — Spalding make the 21⁄2-hour tip to the small town just outside of Augusta. With few other options, SHS agreed.
With opening-round victories behind them, both Spalding teams can now set its sights on second-round matches. Both Spalding High teams are no stranger to going this deep in the state playoffs. The Lady Jags have gone two or more rounds eight years in a row and nine times in the last 10 years, while the Jags have gone two rounds deep the last three years in a row as well as six times in the last seven years and seven times in 10 years.