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Demon netters bounce back to top Manning, Ridge View

Posted: April 24, 2017 3:14 p.m.
Updated: April 25, 2017 1:00 a.m.

After suffering a loss to Blythewood on their first match back after spring break, the Lugoff-Elgin tennis team closed last week’s trio of non-region matches with wins over Manning and Ridge View.

The Demons edged Manning, 4-2, doubled up Ridge View, 4-2, in matches coming after a 5-1 loss to Blythewood.

L-E head coach Edward Rickwood admitted to being apprehensive going into the Ridge View pairing.

“Even though we have been able to best Ridge View in most of our meetings,” he said, “we can never be too sure or too careful about what sort of team we will encounter from year to year. Players move in and out of that school and this year, we met some opponents that had given us trouble in past years but at different schools.”

Finding his rhythm after slow starts in the first sets, L-E first singles player Spencer Hinton swept past Jefferson Folmore 6-2, 6-3.  “This game was a lot closer than the score indicates... at least at the beginning of each set,” Rickwood said. “About halfway through each set, Spencer found another gear and finished each set strong.”

In third singles, L-E’s Tyler Matthews handed Mark Todd a 6-0, 6-2 loss while Ryan Hill gave the Demons a win at fourth singles in taking down Chris Gibson by identical 6-2 counts. “Tyler was in complete control in his match. He got behind in the second set but quickly corrected his course,” Rickwood said of Matthews’ performance.

In fifth singles, L-E’s Holden Roberts thumped Adan Johno, 6-1, 6-1. “Holden was able to keep his unforced errors a little more in check than his Ridge View opponent,” Rickwood said.

The Blazers won at second singles as Kalb Phelps outlasted Matthew Mills, 7-6, 11-6, as well as in second doubles with Elijah Jordan and Trey Stephens falling to  Alex Kivett and Daniel Gooding, 6-3, 6-3, with the Demon duo unable to overcome its unforced errors.

“Even though it seemed like we were in control most of the match,” Rickwood said, “it was a lot closer than we have seen in most years. We will meet them again (today) at home and I am hoping that all of our players are a little more willing to step up their games to lead us into playoffs.”

The Demons held off Manning in a lengthy match which was decided by the L-E first doubles tandem of Hinton and Mills beating Jullian Richardson and Josh Epps, 5-7,6 -1, 10-5.

“Neither team seemed to be able to get a handle on the first set. Each team took turns with the lead,” Rickwood said. “We fell a little short at the end of the first set and missed an opportunity to play yet another set tie break. The second set was all L-E and so was the third set tiebreaker.”

Hinton won his first singles match in quick time in downing Richardson, 6-2, 6-2. In fifth singles, Roberts was tripped up by Epps 7-5, 6-3 to even the match at 1-1. Manning received a win at third singles as Nathaniel Devitt beat Matthews, 6-1, 2-6, 9-11, to put the Monarchs on top, 2-1.

“The tie break went back and forth and the distance,” Rickwood said of the third singles pairing. “Manning has had trouble winning tie breaks and Tyler seems at home in third set tie breaks. This time, though, the win would go to Manning.”

In second doubles, Jordan and Stephens won their first set against Xavier Gibson and Hane Mitchum, 6-3. After, Rickwood gave a warning to his players. “I warned them that Manning would be coming out in the second set with a different plan,” he said. “We seemed unprepared to handle the change. They quickly dropped that set and were forced into a third set tie break. Although we took an early lead and had some match points, Manning was able to fight back and take the match in the end.”

Manning took the second set, 6-2, and then the tiebreaker, 13-11, to go on top, 3-1.

The Demons answered back with three consecutive victories starting with Mills who rallied from a 6-4 first set loss to Dayquan Harrison to win, 6-4, 10-5 with the tie breaker. “Matthew seemed to find himself a little outmatched at first,” Rickwood said, “but you can never count him out of a match. He had a respectable showing in the first set and it just inspired him to step it up for the next two. Possibly knowing how important his match was for the overall results, Matthew steadily chipped away at Manning’s game and took the match.”

Hill drew the two sides even at 3-3 with a 7-6 (10-4), 7-5 victory over Brandon Burgess at fourth singles. “Just like the last time these two players met, the first set was very close. So close in fact that it was decided in a tie break,” Rickwood said. “The second set looked to be heading in the same way so the number one doubles teams were put onto their courts. 

“Near the end of the second set, Brandon ran after a shot that took him a bit too close to the back fence. An athletic trainer was called to the courts to attend to his finger on his racquet hand. When play resumed, you could tell that Brandon had lost a little pop to his shots and Ryan had lost a little attack from his game. Both players were able to collect themselves again, and it was Ryan's aggressive play that kept the second set from going to a tie break as well.”

When first doubles finished playing, the match had lasted three and a half hours. Neither coach was surprised by the marathon match. “The two coaches knew this matchup would be close, but they had no idea how so very close it would be,” Rickwood said of a match which ended with the sun setting.

In the loss to Blythewood, Matthews gave the Demons their lone win as he took down Mason Marshall 4-6, 6-2, 10-6, in second singles.

“Matthew seemed to suffer least from the time off from school and tennis. He had a few too many errors in the opening set but had no problem closing out the match in the next two,” Rickwood said.

Hinton fell to Colin Miles, 2-6, 4-6, in first singles while Reed Broderick handed Matthews a 7-5, 2-6, 14-12 loss at third singles with Hill losing to Garrett Miles, 6-2, 6-7 (10-4) at fourth singles. Turner Hoffman beat Roberts, 6-4, 7-5, to close singles action.

The Bengals took second doubles with Jonathan Jiang and Morgan Marshall outlasting Jordan and Stephens 6-4, 6-7 (10-2).

“Both teams seemed to be suffering from lack of play over spring break,” Rickwood said of last Monday’s contest. “The outcome really could have gone either way and, unfortunately for us, it went Blythewood's way this night.”



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