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Mills shines for L-E tennis team

Posted: March 22, 2017 3:49 p.m.
Updated: March 24, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Finding some good in a tough loss, the Lugoff-Elgin tennis team received a strong performance from Matthew Mills at second singles but it was not enough to overcome a balanced Darlington attack as the Demons fell to 1-5 on the season with a 5-1 loss to the host Falcons on Tuesday.

The setback dropped L-E to 0-3 in conference play.

Mills came away with a 4-6, 7-5, 10-7 win over Chris Moore in a marathon pairing which looked to go the distance from the get-go.

“From the first couple of games you could tell this was going to be a good match,” said L-E head coach Edward Rickwood. “Both players were exchanging beautiful shots from the baseline. In most of the games, it was Matthew who held an advantage over his opponent. He lost a tight one in the first set but managed to get the breaks in the right places to take the second set. He got off to a quick early lead in the third set and never let up til the end. 

“It was a beautiful game to watch not just because of the win,” Rickwood added, “but because we got to see what Matthew’s game is really like.”

The Falcons won the other five matches starting at the top with Avery Williamson taking down Spencer Hinton, 6-1, 6-0. In third singles Tyler Matthews fell to Jace Watford, 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-10. “Despite the score in the first set,” Rickwood said, “Tyler did not seem that out of the match. He came alive in the second set, especially in the tie-break. He got behind early in the third set and, unfortunately, was never able to close that gap again.”

Darlington’s Max Ward stopped Ryan Hill in fourth singles, 6-2, 6-2, before Kendall Howle closed singles play with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Elijah Jordan. “Elijah played a very aggressive game but his opponent was able to counter-attack on a very regular basis. He figured a few things out in the second set and was able to make it much more competitive.”

The Falcons’ experienced duo of Jonathan Bryant and Ross Beasley dealt L-E’s Coby Morrison and Holden Roberts a 6-1, 6-0 defeat. 

“Again,” Rickwood said of his team, “this season is not going as well as we had hoped but we did not leave the courts too disappointed. Spencer will find his game again. Tyler is a very steady player for the team and many of the others are looking to make a move and play more aggressively. Maybe seeing Matthew Mills putting his game together for the win is just what the team needed to see to push their games in the right direction.”


Bengals claw past L-E: In the recent past, tennis contests between Lugoff-Elgin and Blythewood have been close affairs determined by a match or, two.

Monday, it was all Blythewood as the Bengals took down L-E, 6-0, in a non-region match.

“This match was set up for practice against a team that we have been fairly evenly matched with in the past,” said Rickwood. “Many of the games were close, and may be closer still in our next meeting ... perhaps close enough to fall in our favor.”

In spite of the final outcome, this pairing was close in most matches starting at first singles in which BHS’ Colin Miles took a 6-0, 3-6, 9-11 victory over Hinton, who was making his season debut.

“Spencer played his first official match after getting off of injured reserved,” said Rickwood. “He started off quite strong in the first set but started to show signs of lack of play in the second set. Just as Spencer started to climb back into the second set, it was over. The third set tie-break went both ways for a while but finally ended in Blythewood’s favor.”

The Bengals received a pair of 6-1 wins from Mason Marshall who used the lines to his advantage against Mills. In third singles, Reed Broderick stopped Matthews by identical 6-3 scores.

“Just like in second doubles,” Rickwood said, “(Matthews) found he had to hit multiple winners in a row to try to push his opponent around. They had many long rallies with neither player able to hold it in their favor for long. Normally these points ended in an error and unfortunately, for us, there were a few more errors on our side of the net.”

In fourth singles, Ben Cutlip outlasted Ryan Hill, 7-5, 3-6, 10-4. “This match was tight in both sets,” Rickwood said. “Ryan had a little more speed but Ben had a lot more power. Ryan played very close to the lines to try to keep Ben moving. Ben tried to put Ryan on defense by driving him deep toward the fence. Once they got to the third set and Ben could see the end, he was able to take this match out of Ryan’s hands.”

BHS took fifth singles with Morgan Marshall stopping Jordan, 6-1, 6-6, and then won at second doubles with  the experienced tandem of Garrett Miles and Turner Hoffman dealing Morrison and Roberts a 6-4, 6-2 setback. “Our doubles team was slightly out of sync with each other and left too many holes on the court which left plenty of room for the very experienced Blythewood players to exploit,” Rickwood said. 


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