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Dogs double up L-E netters, 4-2

Posted: April 1, 2014 1:37 p.m.
Updated: April 2, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Playing out close to how he thought it would, Camden High tennis coach Roger Smoak was glad to be on the long end of a 4-2 decision over visiting rival Lugoff-Elgin on Monday.
Smoak figured the match would come down to first doubles in order to decide a winner. Instead, Camden’s second doubles tandem of Robert Lackey and K.P. Cassidy outlasted L-E’s Justin Tillman and Nathan Tyson, 6-4, 4-6, 10-7, to prevent the match from going to first doubles.
On a near-perfect afternoon for tennis, Smoak said he was proud to have been a part of a match like this following career win number 590.
“Ed (L-E head coach Edward Rickwood) and his staff have done a great job over there,” he said of the Demons’ coaching staff. “It wasn’t too long ago that they weren’t going to give you a good match, but they’ve stuck with it and they have really improved.
“They are playing teams in 4A tough and just like us this year, they are having trouble getting over the hill. But they’ve been in almost every one of their matches. They have some real good kids and they play with great sportsmanship. It was really a privilege to play against them. This has developed into a good rivalry which I really look forward to.”
The Demons have been tough at the top all season and this day would be no different as sophomore first singles player Hunter Horton swept past Nelson Semple, 6-1, 6-0. L-E senior, Hunter Johnson, held off Camden’s Ben Goodrich for a 7-6 (10-8), 6-3 victory in second singles.
“Our numbers one and two played hard, but the Hunters are real good at one and two for them,” Smoak said.
Camden held the upper hand after that starting with Thomas deLoach’s 6-2, 6-1 win over James Carraway in third singles. Thomas Marshall followed as he stopped Chance Sheorn, 6-1, 6-0, at number four before Wilson Pope downed Levi Benggio, 6-2, 6-0, in a battle between a pair of middle schoolers in fifth singles.
“Our middle and bottom singles players all played well,” Smoak said of his lineup. “This was the kind of match I’ve been waiting on all year from Thomas deLoach. He played tough and played with confidence.
“I thought Thomas Marshall did a good job for us. This was his sixth win in a row. He’s been so much more consistent this year. He’s learning that he needs to control the ball before he tries to put it away. And Wilson (Pope) is improving with each match. He’s becoming more confident and playing better with his offense instead of only relying on his defense.”
The win by Lackey and Cassidy extended their streak to seven in a row in a match which had Smoak pacing, especially after the duo led, 5-1 and then, 8-6, in the tie-breaker.
“I get aggravated with them, sometimes,” Smoak said of the two eighth-graders, “but those guys just know how to win and they are able to get the big points when they need to, which says a lot for them.”
Smoak said his team was determined to protect their home court on Monday and said with this being the start of the team’s second half of the season, he hopes the Dogs can use the victory as a springboard for the rest of the year.
“We need to get our confidence back,” he said of the task in front of his team which improved to 6-4 on the season. “With this win, I hope that it’s a good omen for how we are going to play in the second half of the season.”
Both teams are slated to return to the courts on Thursday as they return to conference competition. Camden will play host to A.C. Flora in a Region 4-AAA pairing while L-E has a home date with Region 4-4A colleague Spring Valley. In both instances, the starting time is set for 5 p.m.

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