The York Comprehensive High School boys’ tennis team hopes to build on competitive matches to start the season.
Though the Cougars were beaten 6-1 in matches against Fort Mill and Union, the YCHS boys had their competitive moments, for which first-year head coach Rusty Graham hopes to translate into success on the court.
“Some of our players have started strong the first two matches,” said Graham. “They need to learn to hold the lead and to finish.
With a roster of nine, he said, the team has six seniors.
Graham lauded the play of Matthew Goforth, who won his singles matches against Fort Mill and Union. “Matthew is playing well,” he said. “All of the kids are working hard to improve.
Senior mainstay Patrick Newberry, who has been part of the tennis program since seventh grade, is the Cougars’ No. 1 singles player.
“Competing against each other for positions on the team ladder makes us batter players,” Newberry said. “Players get a chance to move up the ladder based on their performance.”
Newberry said he knows what it takes to compete against Region 3-AAAA opponents with so many club tennis players. “We do the best we can with players that have little tennis background,” he said. “We’ve had our successful moments and have won matches through the years.”
Newberry, whose solid forehand strokes make him a force on the court, feels good about his game in the early season. “I still need to work on my backhand.”
Newberry was beaten 6-2, 6-2 in the No. 1 singles match against Fort Mill. “I missed a couple practices prior to the Fort Mill match and faced a strong opponent,” he said.
Terry Doan, who has flip-flopped No. 1 and No. 2 singles with Newberry through the years, battled through leg cramps in a competitive 4-6, 3-6 loss to his Fort Mill opponent.
Daniel Patterson, the Cougars’ No. 3 singles player, challenged his opponent in similar fashion by identical scores of 4-6, 3-6.
Occupying the No. 4 singles spot, Goforth was more than his opponent could handle, prevailing 6-3, 6-1.
The Cougars continued to extend Fort Mill to the limit, with No. 5 Cameron Good losing a nail-biter 1-6, 6-7, 4-7 tiebreaker.
The No. 2 doubles team, Ian Elliot and Brian Alnutt, lost a closely-contested match 2-6, 6-7, 5-7 tiebreaker.
Playing an eight-game pro set was Sammie McClurkin, 7-8, 3-7 tiebreaker, and eighth-grader Noah Arnold, 1-8.
“We may not have gotten the ‘w,’ but we were in the match until the end, just as we were in our previous match,” Graham said. “These boys played really hard.”
In the opening-season loss to Union, Newberry prevailed 6-1 in the first match, but his opponent won the next two sets 6-2, 10-4.
Doan had another competitive set, losing 3-6, 4-6.
Goforth, playing No. 3 singles against Union, breezed by his opponent 6-1, 6-2. Playing No. 4 singles, Elliot fell 3-6, 6-0. Good, at No. 5 singles, pushed his opponent, winning the first set 6-1 before yielding 2-6, 9-11.
Alnutt and McClurkin lost their No. 2 doubles match, 3-6, 0-6. Playing a six-game JV set, Arnold was beaten 5-1.
Graham said the new season is a learning experience for the players and the coach.
“I am learning the players and the players are adjusting to a new coach,” he stressed. “It’s early in the season.
The Cougar tennis team is scheduled to host South Pointe at 5 p.m. Thursday.