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Bulldog netters look for a strong finish to season

Posted: April 24, 2014 2:20 p.m.
Updated: April 25, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Before last week’s spring break, Camden High tennis coach Roger Smoak had one goal for his team. When the Bulldogs returned from having had 12 days off, Smoak wanted to finish the season by winning their last five matches.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Dogs took two steps in the right direction with a pair of 6-0 wins over Westwood and Blythewood, respectively. That set the stage for next week’s three final regular season pairings.
“Two down, three to go,” said Smoak after his team improved to 8-7 overall and 2-7 in Region 4-AAA play with the non-region win over Blythewood.
“The three matches that we have left (with Hartsville, Chapin and Lugoff-Elgin) are the toughest ones. We have a tough week ahead of us. We just hope  we can keep it going.”
Smoak juggled his lineup in the win over an outmanned Westwood team as Thomas Marshall started a string of 6-0, 6-0 sweeps as he downed Oliver Ellis in first singles. Robert Lackey then did likewise in second singles against Morgan Casarez while K.P. Cassidy shut out Bryan Ferguson in straight sets. Mac Lindsay lost just one game in knocking off Allen Burke, 6-0, 6-1, in fourth singles while Will Conder make quick work of  Sebastian Young-Cruz with a pair of 6-0 whitewashings.
On an overcast day, Smoak said his biggest concern against the Redhawks was making sure the match was played before the rain started.
“Our main objective was to get the match in before we had bad weather,” he said. “We got off the bus and played the match … we didn’t even practice.
“We played well against Westwood and everybody got a chance to play. Guys like Will Conder and Mac Lindsay have really improved and have gotten better over the course of the season. They deserved a chance to play and they both played real well.”
Camden returned to Blythewood on Wednesday and blanked the 4A Bengals in a contest in which the visitors lost just one set.
Employing their regular rotation, the Dogs received a 6-4, 6-1 win from Nelson Semple over Chris Anderson at first singles. Ben Goodrich then outlasted Taylor Caldwell, 6-1, 2-6, (10-4) at second singles.
“We were a little inconsistent at the top of our lineup,” Smoak said. “But their top two guys are, by far, the best players on their team.”
After the first two singles pairings, things got much easier for the visitors with Thomas deLoach shutting out Mason Marshall at third singles, 6-0, 6-0. Thomas Marshall then downed Colin Miles, 6-1, 6-2, at number four while Wilson Pope closed singles action with a 6-0, 6-0 shutout over Turner Hoffman.
Lackey and Cassidy rejoined forces at second doubles and administered a 6-0, 6-0 blanking of Ben Cutlip and Trey Tucker as Smoak picked up win number 592 as the Bulldogs’ head coach.
“I was proud of all of our guys,” Smoak said after the back-to-back wins. “We just have to keep improving. We have some very good teams coming up next week. We can’t worry about the playoffs or, if we have a chance at making the playoffs. All we can do is try and reach our goal of ending the season on a winning streak.”
The Bulldogs host Hartsville on Monday at 4:30 p.m. in a match which will be preceded by the tennis courts at Camden High School being named after Smoak in a pre-match ceremony starting at 4 p.m. which is free and open to the public. Tuesday, CHS closes out its home season when Chapin comes to town for the Region 4-AAA finale. On Thursday, Camden will travel to meet Lugoff-Elgin in a 4:30 p.m. start.
“We are down to our last two home matches of the season,” Smoak said. “We hope that everybody will come out and support our team in these last few matches.”

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