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Summerville downs L-E netters' season in playoffs

Posted: May 7, 2014 2:35 p.m.
Updated: May 9, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Things started on a sour note for the Lugoff-Elgin tennis team and got worse as the day went along.
Due to poor playing conditions at Summerville High School’s courts, Tuesday’s 4A state tournament opener was moved to Fort Dorchester High School, which has five courts. With both sides playing away from home, it was a powerful Green Wave squad which came away with a 6-0 victory.
“My seniors were hoping to make it to, at least, the second round of the playoffs,” said L-E head coach Edward Rickwood, “but Summerville had a similar dream.  With a student body equal to the size of our entire school district, Summerville High had the manpower and the skill to get it done.
“This was a tough match,” he added. “We don’t normally go up against opponents with that much power and skill so deep into their lineup. It was a genuine playoff match, and just like our last two outings in playoffs, I feel like we were taken out by a team that will more than likely go to the final four.”
Summerville’s winning ways started at first singles as Adam Eliget, ranked among the state’s top four players, downed L-E’s Hunter Horton, the state’s 10th ranked player, 6-2, 6-0.
“The first four games looked very hopeful,” Rickwood said of the match. “Despite the score, the games were very close, going to deuce many times. Both boys were pounding the balls and working the points. 
“The main difference was the put-away shots. Adam had some amazing scrambling abilities to keep himself in the points on Hunter’s put-away shots. Adam also was very good at getting to the net; hitting a near winner shot that would then allow him an easy put away into an open court. This was a play that their coach had worked on with his guys as was evident with the frequency that we saw it occur on all five courts.”
Hunter Johnson fell to Adam Seith at second singles, 6-2, 6-4, before Walker Long stopped Nathan Tyson, 6-1, 6-0, in third singles.
“Hunter tends to get better the longer a match lasts,” Rickwood said of Johnson’s match. “If this had been a best of five sets, I believe Hunter would have gotten it. Similar to the number one court, both boys were pounding the ball and working points. 
“I was happy to see that Hunter figured out pretty quickly that his opponent liked to hit winners to the right (inside out forehands to the ad court). As long as Hunter didn’t move too early, he was able to defensively keep that ball in play and draw an error from his opponent.”
Rickwood said Tyson had to play from behind the entire match against a tough player. “(Long) had a touch more power, and a bit more placement and control,” said the L-E head coach. “Both guys wanted the net, and Walker was able to take better advantage of it when he got there. He aimed for the sidelines and had Nathan overstretching to try to cover the open courts.”
The Green Wave took wins at fourth and fifth singles with Brandon Sekula handing Justin Tillman a 6-0, 7-5 loss at number four while L-E’s James Carraway fell to Jack Hazel, 6-0, 6-2, in the final singles match of the day.
“All season long Justin has been the last one off the courts since his matches tended to go the distance,” Rickwood said of Tillman. “Spring break, a week off the courts due to medical issues and a week of rain were not beneficial to Justin’s game. 
“Similar to Horton’s match,” Rickwood said of the fifth single pairing, “these two were fairly evenly matched... many deuce games, but the important final points tended to go Summerville’s way.”
Due to having just five courts, the second doubles match went on, at Rickwood’s urging, with senior Chance Sheorn teaming with eighth-grader Matthew Mills in an 8-2 pro set loss.
“It was important to me to give Matthew this opportunity since he will be my number two player next year,” Rickwood said. “Summerville hit with more power than my guys which drove them back beyond the baseline.  Having control of the net with my guys so far back gave Summerville the chance to finish off points with short, angled shots.”
Tuesday was the final match for six Demon seniors, from a squad of 10 players. In spite of those losses, Rickwood said he looks forward to the future of the program.
“Next year will be a rebuilding year,” he said. “This will be the biggest group of seniors I lose. It is also the biggest group of starters I have lost; my numbers two through seven players. I will miss these guys, but I have faith that L-E tennis is here to stay.”


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