Pictured above, left to right are Jeb Burke, Bryson Grantham, Rudra Patel, WC Craft, Carson Odom, Coach Jim Palmer, Jay Palmer, Parth Patel, Rand Mims, Coach Tina Fain and Landon Kirkland
Yes, yes, yes, they aced it!
On Saturday, May 8, the Seminole County High School Indian fans who traveled to Rome and filled the stands at the Berry College Tennis Center witnessed history. For the first time in the history of Seminole County High School sports, the Indians won the Georgia High School Association Class A State Tennis Championship with a 3-0 title match victory over the Screven County Gamecocks. It was also the first time in fifty-six years a Seminole County High School sports team won a state title with an unblemished and undefeated record. The 1965 girls’ basketball team of Coach N.P. Malcom and the “Famous Jackie Lane” was the last Seminole County team to reach that height of supremacy.
Last Saturday’s championship match was the second time in school history, and the second consecutive season, the Seminole County Indians’ boys tennis team played for the Georgia High School Association State Tennis Championship. In 2019 the Indians lost a heart breaker in the weather-affected state final, falling to Telfair County 3-2.
The bad feeling of that defeat lingered in the players’ minds throughout the COVID-19-cancelled season of 2020 and motivated these Indians to never feel that way again – and they have not. That 2019 match was the last time these State Champion Indians lost a match.
Indians’ coaches Tina Fain and Jim Palmer are extremely proud of the team’s success this championship season and commented, “Our players set their sights on winning it all this year, and worked hard from week to week to make this opportunity happen. It has been an unbelievable season, and we thank our fans and the entire community for supporting us throughout this championship campaign.”
The road to an undefeated season and the State Championship included two match victories over Miller County, two over Mitchell County, two over Pelham, two over Baconton, and decisive victories over the larger classification schools Bainbridge, Lee County, Early County and Providence.
With an undefeated 15-0 regular season record under their belts, along with the Bainbridge Bearcat Brawl Boys Tournament championship, the Indians defeated the Miller County Pirates, again, to win the Region 1A Championship. Seminole County entered the state tournament red hot, on a roll, and with their mission of winning it all still intact.
The Indians began their post season run for the state title by defeating Hawkinsville 3-0 in the tournament’s first round. They aced Metter 3-0 in the second round, and overpowered the number one seed from Region 7A, Ace Charter, 4-1 to advance into the Final Four.
In the semifinals, the number one seed Region 1A Indians faced the number one seed Region 4A Dublin Fighting Irish in Dublin. The Indians persevered, and served their way into the state tournament title match with a 3-1 win.
On Saturday, May 8, on the courts at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College, the Indians played the Screven County Gamecocks in a 1 p.m. match and decisively served, volleyed and lobbed their way into the state title history books with a 3-0-match victory.
In the State Championship Match Carson Odom won 3-6, 6-1, 3-0; Jay Palmer won 6-4, 6-1; Jeb Burke 6-3, 3-2; the doubles team of Landon Kirkland and Bryson Grantham won 6-3, 6-1; and the doubles team of WC Craft and Parth Patel won 6-2, 6-0.
After the match, with broad and proud smiles on their faces, #1 singles player Carson Odom commented, “We hit it where they weren’t,” and #2 doubles player (WC) Wendell Craft commented to Coah Fain, “Our cup is now full, in fact it is runneth over!”
The 2021 Seminole County Indians team is made up of four Seniors, all 2021 Honor students, one Junior, one Sophomore and three Freshman. This year’s State Championship Indians are Senior Carson Odom, #1 Singles, the son of Stephanie and Tracy Odom; Senior Jay Palmer, #2 Singles, the son of Amanda and Jim Palmer; Freshman Jeb Burke, #3 Singles, the son of Maribeth and Jeremy Burke; Freshman Landon Kirkland, #1 Doubles, the son of Katina and Michael Kirkland; Freshman Bryson Grantham, #1 Doubles, the son of Holly and Bradley Grantham; Senior (WC) Wendell Craft, #2 Doubles, the son of Laura and Wendell Craft; Senior Parth Patel, #2 Doubles, the son of Madhu and Hemant Patel; Sophomore Rand Mims, the son of Geeja and Clint Mims; and Junior Rudra Patel, the son of Paral and Ashwinkumar Patel.