Fortunately for the Lugoff-Elgin tennis team, last week’s 4-2 loss to Blythewood in the regular season finale was not their final match.
The Demons open 4A Lower State tournament action Thursday when the Region 6 runners-up host Dreher, the third-place finisher from Region 5, in a 5 p.m. start at the L-E tennis courts.
“Our rematch against Blythewood was not the match we were hoping to have this close to the end of the season,” said L-E head coach Edward Rickwood following the non-conference pairing. “Whether it was fatigue or lack of interest, we were not playing with any sort of confidence or cohesion. That was definitely not the look from the Blythewood side of the net, though.”
L-E’s Spencer Hinton defeated Reed Broderick, 7-6 (10- 4), 7-6 (10- 8), to give the Demons a victory at first singles.
“Spencer’s game was off the mark, and his frustration with himself was evident to everyone watching the match,” Rickwood said. “Reed was playing well and deserved to win if he had gotten more of the points in the tie-break. Hopefully, Spencer has gotten it out of his system and is ready to get back to playing next week.”
Alex Hinton, L-E’s second singles player, gave the Demons a win as the seventh-grader took down Alex Kivett, 6-0, 5-7, 10-5. “Alex came out hot in the first set. He took it full of confidence. That confidence seemed to wane a little bit in the opening game of the second set, and he spent the rest of that set playing catch up,” Rickwood said. “Fortunately he was able to pull it all back together to take the final set.”
The Bengals won the next three singles and second doubles to close the match.
In third singles, Tarun Ramkumar stopped Matthew Mills, 6-3, 6-4, while Mason Marshall handed Holden Roberts a 6-4, 2-6, 10-7 defeat at fourth singles. In fifth singles, Blythewood’s David Burns outlasted Coby Morrison, winning 6-7 (10-2), 7-5, 2-10.
“This was a difficult match to watch and describe” Rickwood said of third singles. “Matthew was hitting well but never seemed in control of the points. He was moving his opponent more than his opponent moved him yet he was the one having to hit off balanced shots. Blythewood was able to scramble to make Matthew hit one more shot, and it was usually that one more shot that ended the point in the wrong direction for us.
“Holden (Roberts) and his Blythewood opponent played on about the same level. This one would come down to which one wanted it more. Unfortunately, this night Blythewood showed he wanted it more by looking for quick ways to end the points. Holden presented himself with ways to take some quick points too but was unable to get them past his opponent.
“(Fifth singles) was pretty even up until the third set. Neither guy wanted to give up on any of the points. You could not have picked an early winner as both of the first two sets stayed tight to the end. Coby just could not maintain his level long enough to keep it closer at the very end.”
In second doubles, the BHS pairing of Turner Hoffman and Morgan Marshall staved off L-E’s Evan Freier and Andrew Boone winning 3-6, 7-6 (10-6), 10-8, in a match in which the Demon duo overcame a slow start to nearly come away with a win which would have sent the match into a first doubles tie-breaking match.
“This was the one match where we did not look so good at the beginning of the match, but managed to pull it together to make it a contest in the end,” Rickwood said. “Blythewood wanted the net more than we did. Unfortunately, miscommunication and unforced errors made that a difficult task to accomplish.”
Rickwood said he hopes his team took note of Blythewood’s determination as the Demons look ahead to Thursday’s state tourney opener.
“Blythewood came out on their courts with a mission,” he said. “Hopefully with practice and a couple of more matches to go in the regular season, we can find our mission again.”