At first glance, it might appear as if Hilton Head had an easy go of it in downing visiting Lugoff-Elgin, 6-0, in Tuesday’s second round 4A Lower State tennis tournament match. L-E head coach Edward Rickwood said that was far from being the case.
“Though the score would suggest a blowout,” Rickwood said, “it was far from that to watch it live. On most of the courts, we scored just about as many points as their opponents did, but Hilton Head was able to claim the all-important ones in the end.”
The host Seahawks received a pair of 6-0 wins from Matt Oliver over Spencer Hinton at first singles before Davis Phillips stopped Alex Hinton, 6-0, 6-1, at second singles.
“There was little Spencer was able to do to overcome the speed, precision and power coming off of his opponent’s racquet,” Rickwood said of the first single pairing. “Matt, quite often, hits what is referred to as a ‘golden set’ where his opponents do not even score a point. Spencer was able to not only thwart that plan, but also fought his way to deuce. Though rallies probably lasted longer than Matt is accustomed to, they were still off the courts in about 30 minutes.
“Always thinking and always adjusting,” Rickwood said of the second single match, “Alex never looked totally out of a point against his opponent. Although you could tell that Davis was winning the match, you could also tell that he was trying to work things out too. Watching the smart game being played by Alex, it was actually rather surprising to see we were only able to get the one game.”
HH’s Cooper Steinour stopped Matthew Mills in third singles, 6-0, 6-1. “Whether it was home court advantage or the reputation of the team,” Rickwood said, “on a different day Matthew could probably take this one if he had another chance.”
L-E nearly came away with points in both fourth and fifth singles. In the former, the Demons’ Holden Roberts was edged by Alex Ruckno, 7-5, 6-3. In fifth singles, L-E’s Coby Morrison was outlasted in a 3-6, 6-4, 12-10 three-set marathon against Shane Mason.
“The exciting match for the night was on the fifth court,” Rickwood said. “Much like Holden’s match, it looked like Coby might take the first set. After dropping it though, Coby effectively moved his opponent around enough to keep him slightly off balance and to win the second set. The tie-break went back and forth to the end.
“Unfortunately, both players were too tired to keep up with the score and the serving order and so things got really interesting and confusing for the spectators. Coby had two match points, but he could not convert any of them for the win. In the end, Hilton Head just needed the one match point to deny us a win.”
The hosts took second doubles with Alex Ittenbach and Mario Magnan stopping L-E’s Evan Freier and Andrew Boone, 6-0, 6-3, in a match in which, Rickwood said, his duo made too many errors in the opening set and were forced to play from behind. “In their defense,” Rickwood said of his team, “they have never had to play a doubles team that communicated as well and as often as the Hilton Head team.”
Rickwood said the Demons knew they had to be at their best against a strong Seahawk squad.
“Going into this match,” he said, “we knew the top players were going to be at an extremely high level, so we were really counting on attacking the more vulnerable bottom half. The coaches were not disappointed in the team’s efforts. A few important points falling our way could have made a world of difference.
“This season is over, but the team is not done. Facing the loss of only one senior, the team looks forward to what they can accomplish together next year.”