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On championships, Elizabeth Reed, and the meaning of ‘sectional’

A week ago I planned to start my column with thoughts on at least one tennis region championship. I even said so. Well a week later I get to start it with not one, but two.
I said at least one because I had not put as much faith in the boys repeating as the top team in 3AA as I had the girls. Oh ye of little faith say the boys to me now.
Here we go again with the clichés. “To be the man, you gotta beat the man,” said the Nature Boy time and time again.
To be the Region 3AA champions in tennis, you gotta beat SCHS in tennis. No one could when it counted in 2014. Winners and still champions are the Red and White.
Officially, Flair was a 16-time champion of the NWA, WCW, and WWF (now WWE), though he claims more, beginning with his first title in 1991. The region titles of the SCHS tennis teams are not in doubt.
In the 25 years since the GHSA began its current team tennis format, the Lady Gamecocks have claimed a region title 15 times, while the Gamecocks have turned the trick 13 times.
Flair’s record is deceptive because there were times (March 1984) when he lost the title and then regained it three nights later in battles with the likes of Harley Race. For the SCHS tennis teams, the opportunity comes around but once a year.
Want something else impressive?
The Lady Gamecocks have been runners-up another 10 times. Carry that out -- in 25 years of team tennis the Lady Gamecocks have been either region champs or region runners-up every year. The Gamecocks themselves have been runners-up six times giving them a top two finish in 19 of those same five 25 years.
Understand why to win the region you gotta beat SCHS?
Finally came an answer to my Southern Fried Rock trivia question brought on the surname of Napier that we heard so much about during March Madness. SCHS’s own Becky Jones came up with the answer. Back in the day, Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band wrote a song entitled “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” Voted one of the 10 best rock instrumentals of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine, the song was long a staple of the band’s concerts. Elizabeth Jones Reed Napier (1845-1935) is buried in Macon’s famous Rose Hill Cemetery. How does she fit in?
Amazingly, the band used to practice on a hill side of the cemetery (it was the ‘60s) near the Napier Family Plot. Betts penned the song while there and named it for her. Do know that she died before any of the band members were born.
Anyway, I can relate this to sports because Becky Jones was once a Lady Gamecock basketball player.
On to other things …
Kudos to the SCHS track teams for their outstanding performances in the Region 3AA track meet. There have not been a lot of fireworks this track season. A lot of rain outs have contributed to that as have a lot of very small home meets.
But when the time was right, a lot of folks stepped up. A very interesting thought for the runner-up Lady Gamecocks is the huge majority of their points came from ladies who are underclassmen. There will be no Laney, who took the title this year, in next year’s region.
Speaking of track. A couple of years ago the GHSA added an extra meet to its state formula. To get to the state finals in Albany (girls) and Jefferson (boys) participants must first compete in what are called sectional meets.
When you hear the term sectional doesn’t that conjure up thoughts of area schools competing against one another? Google lists various meanings for the word including “pertaining or limited to a particular section,” “relating to, or characteristic of a particular district,” “concerned with only one part of a group or community.” That sounds about like my understanding of the word.
Well our qualifiers have to go to Greater Atlanta Christian Saturday morning to compete in their sectional. That is well over 200 miles away. Sound like a sectional meet to you? Our kids are in a sectional meeting that includes some of the richest schools in the state. Someone in Thomaston at the GHSA office does not understand the meaning of the word.
Why does it matter?
Our kids have to get up way, way, way before sunrise to travel for better than four hours on a bus and then try to give their best effort? How is that fair?
Anyway … probably some more home tennis on tap, but not a lot more.

Burton Kemp Jr. is a contributing writer to the Sylvania Telephone.