Friday, May 16, 2014
There was not a lot of chatter inside the cars of the Waccamaw High Boys Tennis team as it caravanned to Charleston Wednesday afternoon to defend its Class AA Lower State title.
With a nerve-racking match at hand, the Warriors were mentally preparing themselves to meet their archrivals, Bishop England. They were formulating a victory plan, which would afford them the opportunity to play for a state championship on Saturday.
“We have to play to their weaknesses,” said senior Woodrow Tudor. “They will be coming for us, but we are ready for whatever they dish out.”
The Warriors’ plotting paid off as they defeated Bishop England 6-1.
Waccamaw coach Lynn Hunt gathered his team under a shade tree for a few words of wisdom moments before the match.
“I know you guys are nervous, because I will be honest with you, I’m nervous too,” he said. “But let’s focus, get this done, and move on to the state championship.”
An eager group of junior varsity Warriors scurried from court to court cheering their teammates on.
“This is so exciting, I’m not even playing and I’m nervous,” said freshman Lach Dancey as he watched the players warm up on court one.
It was clear from the first ball of the warmup that Waccamaw’s No. 1 player Paul Hendrix would have to be in textbook form to deal with the smashing forehand of Bishop England’s Lukas Zalesky.
In the end, Zalesky’s power proved to be no match for the concise and calculating game of Hendrix. Hendrix moved the ball to all corners of the court and defeated Zalesky 6-3, 6-3.
Court two provided the longest and most controversial match of the day.
Bishop England’s Noah Stieple called for a line judge after disputing several calls by his Waccamaw opponent, Justin Dunn, in their heated second set.
Bishop England allowed their line judge to take the court, but objected to having a Waccamaw line judge as well.
The two athletic directors in attendance overruled the Bishop England coach, and allowed the Waccamaw line judge to enter the court. Dunn looked to be on the verge of winning his match as it moved in to a third set tiebreaker, but failed to cash in on his opponent’s crippling toe cramps, losing the only set for the warriors, 4-6, 6-3, 7-10.
Waccamaw’s No. 3 Joey Hewes used a tactical approach to defeat Bishop England’s Jeff Jones 6-3, 7-5. Hewes played smart tennis, mixing up his ground strokes and keeping his opponent off balance.
Hewes’ brother, Ben, was on court four strategically sending his opponent Jake Meyer to the back court with his powerful cross court forehand.
Just as Meyer recovered from running to the back court, Hewes brought him to the net with a wicked drop shot.
Deploying all the tricks in his tennis bag, Hewes prevailed over Meyer, 6-3, 6-3.
The shortest match of the day was played on court five, where Waccamaw’s Jaz Greene overpowered his Bishop England opponent Thomas Sottile. Producing one scorching winner after another, Greene took down Sottile 6-1, 6-0 in just over an hour.
With singles matches completed, and Waccamaw already the winner, Bishop England forfeited both of their doubles matches, giving the Warriors a 6-1 team victory and a ticket to the state finals on Saturday in Columbia.
The smile on Coach Hunt’s face couldn’t have been any bigger as his Warriors lifted him high above their heads.
Waccamaw travels to Columbia on Saturday to face Christ Church for the state championship.
“We will practice hard Thursday and Friday,” said senior Kevin Mushock. “We don’t want them to beat us again this year … This is my last year, and I want to go down fighting for that state ring.”