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Flora trips up Dogs in season opener, 4-2

Posted: March 13, 2014 2:34 p.m.
Updated: March 14, 2014 5:00 a.m.

If he had his druthers, Camden High tennis coach Roger Smoak would rather ease into the start of the season before heading into conference action.
Instead, the Bulldogs jumped right into Region 4-AAA action to open the season and returned home from Forest Acres with a 4-2 loss at the hands of league foe A.C. Flora.
“I don’t exactly understand why, all of a sudden, this year,” said the state’s all-time winningest tennis coach, “we go to playing all these region matches at the beginning of the season. I assume that it’s because with all this bad weather, if you can’t play (the matches) early, you still have time to make them up later.
“It might be all right for a veteran team, but for a young team, you would like to play somebody who might not be as good and give your young guys some experience.”
Camden, which won one of its four matches in last weekend’s Florence Tennis Association pre-season tournament, was thrown into the fire in its opener. A.C. Flora is thought to be a strong contender for the conference tennis title along with River Bluff. And the experienced Falcons flexed their muscles on their home court on a picture perfect Tuesday afternoon.
“A.C. Flora lost just one main player from last year,” Smoak said. “We just lack that experience that you need to play a team (like Flora) at the beginning of the year. But our kids got some good experience under fire. We just have to learn to play under pressure; whenever the match is on the line, you have to be able to win the big points.”
In a match which was decided entirely by straight sets, the Bulldogs received a 6-1, 6-4 win from junior first singles player Nelson Semple over Brandon Douglass. Camden’s other win came at fourth singles with sophomore Thomas Marshall taking down Hal Fant by identical 6-3 scores.
“Nelson’s been having some back problems, but I thought he could win his match because he beat (Douglass) both times they played last year,” Smoak said. “I was pleasantly surprised with Thomas Marshall playing as well as he did. Thomas doesn’t have much experience. But he’s one someone we have who plays tennis year ‘round.
“Thomas is beginning to learn that he just can’t whack the ball but has to play within himself and doing what he can do with a certain shot and keeping the ball in the court. I thought he did a good job with that.”
The Falcons did not have much trouble in their four victories with Lukas McClamrock upending CHS senior Ben Goodrich, 6-1, 6-0, in second singles.  Austin Powell followed by stopping junior Thomas deLoach 6-1, 6-1 in third singles while Alexander Glickman stopped Camden seventh-grader Wilson Pope 6-1, 6-0 in fifth singles. The Flora second doubles tandem of Zach Kirkland and Richard Kneece dealt Bulldog eighth-graders Robert Lackey and K.P. Cassidy a 6-2, 6-2 loss.
Smoak said he was pleased with the effort his team gave in this match while crediting A.C. Flora for its play. “They are just a strong and steady team,” he said of the Falcons.
“I don’t think the final score was indicative of how good the matches were and certainly, how good the rallies were and things like that. They were just steadier than we were and they came out on the long end of a lot of our rallies.
“We just have to keep improving and then, when they come to our place, we can be very competitive with them and feel like we have a chance to win.”


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