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West Florence knocks Demons netters from 4A tournament with 5-1 win

Posted: May 5, 2016 2:51 p.m.
Updated: May 6, 2016 1:00 a.m.

After an 0-5 start to the season, who would have blamed the Lugoff-Elgin tennis team if they folded up their tent and gave up on the season?

Instead of doing that, the Demons battled their way back to the 4A state tournament, following a year’s absence in the post-season, with a fourth place finish in Region 4-4A play.

On Wednesday, a strong West Florence squad put an end to L-E’s campaign in protecting its home court with a 5-1 victory over the visiting Demons.

“This would have been a tough match to win even if we had been on our game,” said L-E head coach Edward Rickwood. “Unfortunately, West Florence was on their game and we were a little off ... even in our top position.”

L-E’s Hunter Horton completed a perfect season at first singles as he handed Andrew Habnus a 6-2, 6-3 setback. The win capped a hectic day for the Demon senior who has signed to play tennis at Coker College next year.

“Hunter had a long, exhausting day,” Rickwood said. “He went straight from an AP exam to the courts. Andrew played an aggressive game and he was able to take more games off of Hunter than anyone else this year.”

The Knights would win the remaining five matches starting with Burns Grich taking a pair of 6-0 wins over Spencer Hinton at second singles. “Just like most of the courts,” Rickwood said, “West Florence had our guys moving side to side and then put the ball away in the open court. Spencer found himself unable to keep his feet under him.”

In third singles, WF’s Hale Emerson took down Tyler Matthews, 6-0, 6-1, while the Knights’ Mason McLamb blanked Matthew Mills in fourth singles, 6-0, 6-0.

“Again,” Rickwood said of Matthews’ pairing, “West Florence had our player running much more than normal. Tyler fought to stay in every point. After many deuce games, Tyler was able to take a game. It was a minor victory, and unfortunately it was too little too late.

“Matthew (Mills) had some great shots but he, too, found it difficult to set his feet. Too often this resulted in his shots being far off target.”

The hosts received a 6-0, 6-0 win from Wyatt Emerson over Harrison Garcia to close out singles action before their second doubles pairing of Patterson Kannon and Austin Tyler won by a pair of 6-0 counts over L-E’s Evan Freier and Ryan Hill.

“Harrison (Garcia) actually played his shots very well but his opponent had many more shots up his sleeve,” Rickwood said. “And, this was probably the strongest number two doubles team that we had faced all season. We had to contend with well-placed passing shots, body shots and lobs.”

Rickwood said he was proud of his team for how well they bounced back following a slow start and losing to West Florence was nothing to be ashamed of. He also said this was a campaign which his returning players can use as they move forward to a new conference beginning in 2017.

“It had been three years since we had played West Florence. They were a solid team back then, and time has not changed that,” he said. “We knew that a win would be tough but we had hoped to put in a stronger showing in our rematch, especially in playoffs. 

“This season is over but most of our team will return next year ready for a new season in a new region.”

 

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