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CHS open with consecutive losses

Posted: March 8, 2012 1:37 p.m.
Updated: March 9, 2012 5:00 a.m.

So much for opening your season with cupcake opponents.
Spring Valley put a damper on Camden’s tennis opener in downing the visiting Bulldogs, 4-2, on Tuesday afternoon in Columbia. One day later, CHS was upended by a young Wilson Hall squad, 4-3, to begin the season at 0-2.
Tuesday’s loss was the first in a regular season match since Spring Valley upended CHS in the 2010 regular season finale on the Vikings’ way to that year’s 4A state title.
“This is not the way we figured that we’d start the season,” said CHS head coach Roger Smoak. “But ‘it is what it is’, as they say. But I still believe in our guys. I told them after the (Wilson Hall) match that we still have the opportunity to accomplish a lot of the goals which we set for ourselves this season.”
Following the loss to Spring Valley, Smoak said he was not down on his team, at all.
“You are never pleased with a loss,” he said, “and we’re at that point with Camden tennis where we don’t believe in moral victories. We have enough good players where we should expect to win every match.
“You never want to begin your season with a loss, but if you play somebody good, then it’s worth it. Spring Valley is one of the top 4A teams in the state. I think this match will be one that will help us later in the season.”
Camden received wins from its two seniors. Jo Jo Tiller tied by brother atop the school’s win list with 97 career victories as he shrugged off a slow start to outlast Conner Burke in first singles, 1-6, 7-6 (8-6), (10-5.) Davis Goodrich had an easier time of it at fourth singles as he swept past Fareed Siddiqi, 6-4, 6-3.
“We expect our two seniors to do a lot for us and they both came through in this match,” Smoak said.
“Spring Valley’s number one player will probably be the best player Jo Jo will face all season. That was one of the closest matches that Jo Jo’s played in a long time. He showed his mental toughness in his match. He mixed up his game and beat a very, very good player.
“Davis is a player that we expect to get a win every time out. He’s somebody we depend on to win if we’re going to win those tough matches.”
The Vikings won at second singles as Jamie Spruill downed Roderick Todd, 6-3, 6-2. Sean Dunnigan then topped Nelson Semple in third singles, winning 4-6, 6-3, (10-6.) SV took fifth singles with Chris Clymer getting the best of Ben Goodrich, 6-4, 6-0. The hosts took second doubles, as well, with Hunter Hale and Richard Chen upending Thomas de Loach and Carlos Williams, 6-1, 6-3.
“Nelson played a good first set, but the second half of the match got away from him,” Smoak said of Semple’s loss. “He just has to learn to bear down and get tough.
“And this was Ben’s (Goodrich) first real test in singles for us. He’ll learn from it and hes will get better.”
One day later, CHS fell to a Wilson Hall squad which lists four eighth-graders among its five singles’ players. Smoak said he was impressed with what he saw from the SCISAA entry.
“Wilson Hall surprised me. I didn’t know they were this good,” he said. “They were a lot better than I thought they would be.
“Give Wilson Hall a lot of credit; they have some tough tournament players. You could tell that they’ve played a lot of tennis. They don’t beat themselves, they have good strokes, they know how to play the game and they are mentally tough.”
In first singles, Tiller broke his older brother Cauthen’s record for career victories at CHS when he won for the 98th time in his six-year career with a 6-1, 6-3 sweep of Mark Carnes.
Wilson Hall then won two of the next three singles pairings with Thomas Brown stopping Todd, 6-3, 1-6, (10-6) at second singles before Semple bounced back from his loss to SV with a 6-7, 6-0, (10-7) victory over Wilson Hall’s Logan Weiland. The Cavs took fourth singles with Tradd Stover handing Davis Goodrich a pair of 6-4 losses. The Dogs won at fifth singles with Ben Goodrich taking a pair of 6-3 decisions over Hunter Hendrix.
Smoak said his team can ill afford to split the first four matches.
“The top of our lineup has to pick it up while the bottom of the lineups matures,” he said. “But everybody has to pick it up for us.”
Wilson Hall secured the win as Carnes and Brown outlasted Tiller and Todd in first doubles, 6-4, 3-6, (11-9) while Trey Davis and Pierce Thompson defeated Thomas deLoach and Charlie Nash in second doubles, 7-5, 6-1.
The Wilson Hall pairing was the second of three matches in as many days for the Bulldogs who hosted A.C. Flora on Thursday.
“These are probably the hardest group of matches to start a season that I can ever remember us having,” Smoak said. “I have to take the blame for that since I make out the schedule. Nothing is going to be easy for us this year because we play Irmo and Wilson Hall again next week. It’s a tough schedule.
“We are a streaky team. We have good stretches and we have our inconsistent stretch. We just have to come out and play consistently for the whole match.”

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