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CHS hosts A.C. Flora in Thursday's tourney opener

Dogs carry 10-match win streak into the post-season

Posted: May 1, 2012 2:42 p.m.
Updated: May 2, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Wanting to get in a final tune-up before hosting A.C. Flora in Thursday’s AAA Lower State tournament opener, Camden High tennis coach Roger Smoak moved last Thursday’s rained-out regular season finale at Wilson to Monday in Florence.
The Bulldog boss nearly bit off more than his team could chew.
Needing to get a first doubles win from Jo Jo Tiller and Roderick Todd, the Dogs (13-3) ended the regular season on a 10-match win streak with a tougher-than-expected 4-3 victory over the host Tigers.
“I thought that it would be good for us to get a match in this week so that we would not have to go into the state tournament with not having played a match in more than a week,” said the state’s winningest tennis coach. “I wanted to go into the playoffs with some confidence. I about got more than I bargained for.”
Being forced to go into a first doubles tie-breaker for only the fourth time in 16 matches this year, Tiller and Todd fell to Wilson’s Ryan Space and Anard Chokski, 6-4, in the first set. The Bulldog duo rebounded to win the second set, 6-1, and then took the tie-breaker, 10-8, to close out the match.
“We depend on Jo Jo and Roderick, who are experienced veterans and confident players,” Smoak said. “We needed them to win to pull out the match and they did. They just wore down their opponents.”
Tiller and Todd won their singles pairings with Tiller outlasting Space, a freshman, 3-6, 6-1, (10-8). Todd had an easier time against Chokski in winning in straight sets, 6-1, 7-5.
“Jo Jo has probably played more tough three-set matches this year than he has in the past two or three years combined,” Smoak said of his senior first singles player. “And, Roderick was our only player to win in straight sets. He is beginning to play like the Roderick of old, which is a great sign for us as we get ready to go into the state playoffs.”
The third Camden win in singles came at number three as freshman Nelson Semple took a 2-6, 6-2, 10-8 win over Zachary Zhou. “Nelson dug down and battled back and got a big win for us,” Smoak said.
The Dogs fell at fourth singles as Wilson’s Tyler Jackson down Davis Goodrich, 2-6, 6-4, 15-13, in a marathon match. The Tigers won at fifth singles as Benjamin Liu brought Ben Goodrich’s win streak to an end with a 6-2, 6-4 victory. Wilson won at second doubles with Sado Saidge and Adithih Panda handed Thomas deLoach and Carlos Williams a 3-6, 6-3, 10-6 defeat.
Smoak said that while this was not one of his team’s better matches, he was proud that his players were able to come away with the win in a setting which has given the Dogs problems in past seasons.
“I was worried about going to Wilson. Historically, we have not played well there,” he said. “Plus, after you beat a team easily, like we did the first time against Wilson (a 5-1 CHS win), you know the other team going to be up for you in the second match.”
Wilson finished second in Region 7-AAA and will travel to Bluffton for Thursday’s Lower State opener. Camden hosts A.C. Flora, a team which the Dogs beat 4-2 and then, 4-0 (in a rain-shortened match) in the regular season. CHS, which has home court throughout the Lower State, will host the winner between Chapin and Hartsville next Tuesday, should Smoak and company get past the Falcons. Thursday’s match is set for a 4:30 p.m. start.
“We are a little better than A.C. Flora at the top of the lineup, but they have real consistent players,” Smoak said of the Falcons. “We just can’t afford to be looking ahead. We need to take it one match at a time because now, it’s lose and go home.
“I am proud of our kids for how they have played so far after the regular season. After starting slow, with a 3-3 record, they have really come on and have been playing well.”

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