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Bulldog netters stop Demons, 5-1

Posted: April 19, 2018 11:46 a.m.
Updated: April 20, 2018 1:00 a.m.

With a biting wind sending the ball in different directions and the temperature seeming much lower than the 57 degrees that the thermometers read, the Camden High tennis team defeated visiting Lugoff-Elgin, 5-1, on Monday at the Roger Smoak Tennis Courts. 

“This season seems to be the year of wind and rain. Although annoying, neither team would be using it as an excuse this day,” said L-E head coach Edward Rickwood of a match in which several good friends lined up across from each other in most matches.

Camden took four singles pairings with Wilson Pope downing Spencer Hinton 6-1, 6-0, in first singles. “Spencer and Wilson are very familiar with each other’s game,” Rickwood said of the match. “Spencer has always struggled against Wilson, but that was not going to stop him from giving it his all. He played a very aggressive game against his opponent. A couple key points in each of the games could have made the match score closer. Wilson was steadfast in his play though and found a way to keep Spencer at bay.”

At second singles, Camden’s K.P. Cassidy handed Alex Hinton a pair of 6-3 defeats before Camden’s Robert Lackey defeated Matthew Mills, 6-1, 6-2.

“As always, Alex (Hinton) proved himself to be a thinker as he worked against the wind and his very talented opponent. Alex seemed to be up a couple of times in both the games and sets, but Camden always found a way to swing things back into his favor,” Rickwood said. “The game caught the attention of the Camden coaches as seventh-grader Alex was hanging quite well with their number two player.

“A similar story was playing out on court three as on court one. Matthew (Mills) was playing a very smart match against his opponent. Even though he worked his way deep into the points to put himself in winning positions, Robert (Lackey) was able to find the tiny openings Matthew left and hit very precise shots to end the points.”

The Demons got a win at fourth singles with Holden Roberts outlasting Brett Elliot for a 2-6, 6-3, 12-10 win. “These two old friends looked like they were having a relaxed hitting practice more than a rivalry school match,” Rickwood said. “Brett was in complete control in the first set, but Holden was just as dominant in the second. The tie-break went back and forth to the bitter end as if neither one of them wanted to finish the match despite the wind and cold. 

“Both boys are used to being the last one off the courts for both of their teams, and today was going to be no different. Eventually, Holden took the last two points for the win.”

Ben Battiata closed singles action with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Coby Morrison while Camden’s second doubles pairing of Will Cox and Will Farmer won over Evan Freier and Andrew Boone in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2.

“Both were great scramblers, and so some points lasted quite a few shots longer than anyone thought they would last,” Rickwood said of the fifth singles match. “One difference in their game, though, was that Ben had a little more power in his put away shots than Coby. It was those shots that allowed Camden to take the breaks and the win.

“The struggle was very real on the doubles court. Facing tall opponents with far more doubles experience and devastating ground strokes, we could not find their way into the opening set. Andrew and Evan were not without their bright moments in their match but, not enough of them to sway the eventual outcome for the match.”

In spite of the setback in the non-region pairing, given the circumstances, Rickwood was upbeat following the match.

“Again,” he said, “we did not come out with a win over Camden but, we were not unhappy with the way we played. Almost all of the courts showed that they were able to hang with their opponent. We just have to find a way to get up into the next gear to make the matches a little more interesting.”

The Demons fell to Irmo, 5-1, in a Tuesday non-region match in which L-E played better than it did in the first meeting between the soon-to-be conference colleagues.

Again, it was Roberts scoring a 6-7, 6-4, 10-6, win over Hayden Felkel at fourth singles which gave the Demons their win.

“Except for losing quadruple set points in the first set,” Rickwood said, “Holden played three very good sets. He lost the first one in a very tight tie-break. He won just enough of the important points to take the second set before it too had a chance of getting to a tie-break. And just like with his match the night before against Camden, he was able to take the third set for the win.”

Spencer Hinton lost to Sean Nguyen, 6-0, 6-1, in first singles while Alex Hinton fell to Henry Cooper, 6-2, 6-1 in second singles.

“Sean is the toughest opponent Spencer has faced since taking over the number one spot,” Rickwood said. “Even with the steep uphill battle, Spencer stayed focused and positive. He was beaten, but he never looked like he didn’t deserve to be out there on the court.

“If you did not pay attention to the score keeper but instead just watched the rallies, it would be difficult to tell which player was winning,” Rickwood said of the second doubles pairing. “Both players had wonderful shot-making abilities. In the end though, Irmo’s experience and a touch more power took the match.”

In third singles, Mills was defeated by Adam DiMaggio, 6-3, 6-1, in a match which was closer than the score indicated. L-E’s Coby Morrison was outlasted by Sean Dougherty in a 4-6, 6-1, 7-10 loss at fifth singles. “Coby played three very good sets,” Rickwood said. “Both players exchanged leads in the first set. The second set was all Coby. But he was unable to maintain the level of play he had done in the second.”

Irmo’s Jack Ostergaard and Reese Petruzzi defeated Freier and Boone in second doubles, 6-3, 3-6, 10-6. “There was never really a time that you could tell which team was going to take this match,” Rickwood said. “Both teams suffered greatly from too many unforced errors. Each side worked to find that upper hand to take them to victory. Unfortunately it was Irmo that found it first.

“Although they only won one out of six matches,” Rickwood added, “this is the sort of play they need to see from my guys as they approach playoffs. Every court showed that they will not back down from a challenge. Maybe, just maybe, they can find that extra gear just in time for their first playoff match on April 26.”

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