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Dreher doubles up Bulldog netters, 4-2

Posted: April 12, 2013 10:08 a.m.
Updated: April 15, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Camden’s road to the AAA state tennis playoffs just got a little tougher.
Traveling to meet Dreher in a key Region 4-AAA match in Columbia last Thursday, the Bulldogs were dealt a 4-2 loss by the hosts.
The defeat gave Roger Smoak’s troops a 2-2 record in conference play with two league pairings left, including a visit from three-time defending state champion Chapin on Thursday. Next Tuesday, the Dogs travel to meet second-place A.C. Flora. Those pair of contests will help to determine Camden’s post-season fate.
“I would have bet my house that this would have been a 4-2 or, 4-3 match either way,” Smoak said. “I knew that we would have to play our best with this match being on the road.”
With the win, Dreher (7-3) avenged a 4-2 loss in Camden last month while improving to 2-3 in 4-AAA play. Should the two teams tie for second, behind Chapin, in the conference standings, Smoak hopes the Bulldogs and Dreher will meet in a tie-breaking match to determine which side earns a state tournament berth.
As for Thursday’s match, which finished just before the rains came, Smoak said his team needs to move on from the defeat.
“We just need to go out and rededicate ourselves to the rest of our season. We need to work harder,” he said. “I told them after the match that it’s like a prize fighter; there’s no disgrace in getting knocked down, as long as you get back up and fight.”
Camden (8-3) would take two of the first three singles matches. After Dreher’s Evan Hanner stopped Roderick Todd, 6-4, 6-3, the Bulldogs’ Nelson Semple handed Nathan Hahn a 6-3, 6-2 loss in second singles before Ben Goodrich swept past Jake Skeppstrom, 6-1, 6-3.
“I’m really proud of Ben,” Smoak said of Goodrich’s performance. “This had to be his best match of the season. He played against the same guy who beat him, 10-8, in the third set the last time we played them and, Ben dominated him.
“And, we always depend on Nelson every match. He’s so big, strong and athletic and can dominate a lot of people at second singles, which he did in this match.”
The Blue Devils took the fourth and fifth singles matches as Reid Skeppstrom, who missed the first match between the two sides, defeated Thomas deLoach, 6-2, 7-5, before Ryan Mann dealt Robert Lackey a 6-3, 6-4 setback. The hosts won at second doubles with Daniel Brown and Connor Slattery getting past Gus Allen and Charlie Nash, 6-0, 6-1.
Smoak said Dreher’s experience paid off in this match against the Bulldogs who, he said, played hard to the end and never gave up.
“Dreher has very good depth. There is not much difference in their plays at the bottom of their lineup,” Smoak said.
“I thought our guys came out ready to play and they were mentally ready, knowing what was at stake, which was a playoff spot.
“I still think that we are as good a team as they are, but they were definitely better than we were (on Thursday), that’s all there is to it. If we were the better team (Thursday), then we would have beaten them. You just need to be at the top of your game, all the time, but especially when you go on the road.”

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