By R. Alan Richardson
In the biggest junior tennis event in Georgia this year, local student Jackson Kirby and his partner, William Luke of Athens, took home the 14-under Peach State Doubles Tennis Title last weekend. The website described the event like this:
The Peach State is Georgia’s most exclusive junior championship. This tournament is open to the top 64 players in each age category. Over 600 kids, ranging from ages 10-18, will compete in this event over a 5-day period. Each draw will host a 64-player singles draw and a 32 team doubles draw with a feed-in consolation through the round of 16 for singles and single elimination for doubles. There will be a 3/4 playoff match for the singles and doubles draw in each event.
Kirby is the son of Daryl and Stacey Kirby of Buckhead. He is currently ranked number 70 in his grade class in the entire country and is considered a Five-Star tennis recruit much the same as football, basketball, and baseball college recruits are ranked for Division-I Universities. That’s pretty heady stuff considering he hasn’t turned 14 yet.
He told us, “We played well in the tournament. We’ve played a lot together and against each other over the years as training partners at Beck Training Academy in Athens. He’s my best friend too so our communication is a strength. Between his volleys and net game, and my ground strokes, it sets us up for a lot of easy points.” Kirby told us that they played their best tennis is the finals match. After winning the first two rounds handily, the duo had to battle back from a 2-5 deficit in the third round. “We won five straight points against the number three seeded team to take the win 7-6.” With the momentum decidedly in their favor, the team knocked off the number one seed in the finals to take home the Peach State Title.
The 5’8” Kirby also competed in singles and finished third in that competition. “I was expecting to do well in singles as the number two seed coming in, but I was especially happy with how my extra conditioning and fitness preparation helped me get through all the matches. The heat was brutal, but to finish third in a very tough draw against some tough competition will give me a lot of confidence going into the Southerns. I was really happy with the singles outcome.”
The youngster will be competing in the Southerns (South Regionals) and other big national tournaments throughout the summer around the country. The Southerns will be held in Macon where he will again compete in singles and doubles against players from seven southeastern states. The draws will depend on the Southern rankings where Kirby is currently ranked 28 in the 14-under age group.