After cruising through an unbeaten regular season and winning the Region 3-AAAA title for the second year, the Clover High School boys’ tennis team fell to Dorman in the AAAA playoffs.
The visiting Cavaliers withstood a Blue Eagle rally to win a 4-3 tie-breaker and advance to the second round of the playoffs.
To start the rally, senior Rob Long defeated his opponent 7-6 and 6-4 at No. 4 singles.
Garrett Smith’s 4-6, 6-3, 11-9 win sent the match to a No. 1 doubles tie-breaker, with Justin White and Thomas Summers losing 6-2, 6-0 to a dominant Dorman twosome.
“Garrett was down 7-3 and battled back to 8-7,” said CHS head tennis coach Phil Wingard. “He battled back and got us into the No. 1 doubles tie-breaker.”
Wingard said it all came down to one match.
“We had unforced errors, hit balls into the net and double-faulted,” said Wingard. “You can’t do that against great players.”
At No. 2 doubles, Clover’s Sean Elder and Holden McGill breezed past their opponent to win 6-2, 6-3.
Wingard said Dorman’s No. 1 singles player was ranked No. 3 in the state last year.
“The two players in front of him are not back,” Wingard said. “He’s probably No. 1 in the state now.”
The Clover coach lauded the team for playing with a lot of heart. “Our seniors have been great to watch and great to coach,” he said.
The Blue Eagle tennis team has set the standard in Region 3-AAAA with back-to-back region championships. “In the last two years, we’ve gone 18-0 and 15-0,” Wingard said. “We’ve lost both playoff matches by 4-3 tie-breakers.”
The Blue Eagles finished the season with a 15-1 record and ranked No. 9 in AAAA tennis.
Clover graduates four starters and looks to rebuild next year. However, the CHS team has several strong JV players in Andy Brom, Jay Rowland and Harry Snow.
Senior Patrick Smith finished his career at CHS with 70 varsity wins during six years, and his brother, Garrett, also had 70 wins in six years.
Long had 51 career wins during five years and was selected to play in the North South Senior All-Star event in Greenville May 30.
Junior White was selected to play in the SC State AAA/AAAA singles tournament for the second straight year. The matches were played earlier this week.