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Gators take a bite out of Dogs
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First-year schools and their athletic teams are not supposed to be this good.
With an enrollment more in line with a 4A entry, River Bluff has created plenty of problems in Region 4-AAA in all sports, none more than this spring.
Tuesday, the Gators dealt a blow to Camden’s AAA state tennis tournament hopes by pinning a 6-0 loss on the visiting Bulldogs in a match which left CHS (6-6, 1-6 in 4AAA) head coach Roger Smoak impressed.
“I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a first-year team that is this good,” said the state’s winningest tennis coach. “River Bluff is a team that can make a run for the state championship. To me, they are the best team in our region, by a good bit.”
Saying the scores were not indicative of how hard his team played, Smoak was disappointed with how his players opened their matches only to play better in each of the six second sets.
“We didn’t play our best,” he said, “but we were steady. When you play a team like River Bluff, you need to be able to put shots away. They just kept us on the defensive in all the matches. But I was proud of my guys for coming back and playing better in the second set.”
In the sweep, the Gators’ Logan Atkins stopped Nelson Semple in first singles, 6-3, 6-2. Nikil Sahram downed Camden’s Ben Goodrich 6-0, 6-4 in second singles while Hunter Bennefield handed Thomas deLoach a 6-1, 6-2 setback at number three.
Albert Zhu beat Thomas Marshall in fourth singles, 6-0, 6-3, while Mac Lindsay was moved into fifth singles and came out on the short end of a 6-0, 6-1 decision with Conner Slattery.
The hosts completed the shutout in second doubles as Tyler Walker and Robbie Cape outlasted the Camden duo of Robert Lackey and K.P. Cassidy, 7-5, 7-5.
“I thought Mac played well. He hung in there against a very good player,” Smoak said of Lindsay. “And Robert and K.P. played a good match against two older kids.”
With three conference matches left, the Dogs may need to win all three and then, get some help along the way in order to return to the post-season.
“You just have to pick yourself up and get ready for the next match,” Smoak said. “Our kids are resilient and have confidence in themselves. I think we will come back strong.”