HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS FINALS

Socastee ends Chapin’s title era

ainelson@thestate.comMay 12, 2013 

— Chapin coach John Rodgers had a plan for the Eagles as they headed into Saturday’s Class 3A championship against Socastee at Otarre Point.

But things did not go according to plan for the Eagles, as Socastee won 4-3, snapping Chapin’s championship streak at three.

“We were hoping to win the lower courts and steal (singles courts) 1, 2, or 3, but that didn’t happen,” Rodgers said. Instead, Socastee won the top three courts, and secured the win with a 6-2, 2-6 (10-4) victory by Kyle Barr and Robert Conley on the No. 1 doubles court.

“We were hoping we could get them 4-2 or to win it with our No. 1 doubles,” Rodgers said. “We almost pulled it off.”

The Eagles got a crucial win from the No. 2 doubles team of Patrick Knight and Jason Flowers. Their 3-6, 6-4 (11-9) comeback win helped force the showdown at No. 1 doubles.

It was a tough day for Chapin’s leaders, brothers Sean and Jeffrey Koch, who had lost their singles matches at No. 1 and 2, before the Eagles pinned their title hopes on the pair’s final match.

In the first set, Chapin slipped behind two games in, but knotted the set score in the fourth game with three

aces from Sean Koch. They would drop the set, but posted a valiant comeback under tremendous pressure in the

second set to force the tie-breaker.

With Barr playing strong in the front court, Socastee went up 7-1 in the tie-breaker. Four points later, facing match point, the Eagles looked to rally, but could not hold off the Braves.

“Socastee was a better team today in that doubles match,” Rodgers said.

Chapin eliminated Socastee in the 2012 semifinals, and for Socastee that memory was a bit of ammunition. For the Eagles, returning to the title match was a special memory all its own.

“Getting back to the championship was very rewarding,” Rodgers said. “We lost four or five guys every year, and last year we lost three or four guys from a very good team. We just didn’t have quite enough to get through this year.”

4A: SOUTH AIKEN 4, DORMAN 2

South Aiken freshman Preston Tiffany got the rush of his life after fighting through to a third set victory on the No. 3 singles court.

Tiffany battled back from a first set loss to win 6-7, 6-4 (10-5) and fell to the court after the winning point, which sealed the title for his South Aiken Thoroughbreds.

Teammates rushed the court to celebrate with their youngest starter — the last man standing in a long match in which the Thoroughbreds needed two such rallies to survive.

On the No. 4 singles court, Petar Zotovic also won in a tie-break set, after surrendering a first-set lead to Dorman’s Barrett Hardy. Zotovic won his tie-break in a close 10-8 decision.

South Aiken coach Rakesh Jasimi was near trembling with excitement as the Thoroughbreds (19-1) awaited their trophy.

“I truly believed,” Jasimi said. “There was no doubt they were going to find a way. Man, these guys showed some guts today,” he said. “I’m shook up.”

The Cavaliers had an advantage at first, with Wood Benton and Patrick Tobacco winning the No. 1 and No. 2 courts in straight sets.

But Jonny Bowman and the Thoroughbreds’ No. 2 doubles team came up with big wins that tied the match and left Zotovic and Tiffany with a chance to put it away.

Dorman coach Sammie Napier hoped his team could take one of the courts to get Benton and Tobacco back on the court for No. 1 doubles to decide the match.

“That was the whole focus for us, trying to get to No. 1 doubles. And for them, they were trying to avoid it. We felt like we would have won it then,” he said.

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