Camden advanced to the Class 3A Lower State boys tennis championship match with a marathon 4-3 win over South Aiken on Tuesday. The Bulldogs (17-1) will take on mighty Myrtle Beach on Friday at the Lexington County Tennis Complex.
Meanwhile, Chapin’s bid to reach the Upper State title bout failed in a 4-2 loss to Riverside.
Camden’s fate was not determined until junior Josh Cook and senior Will Kornagey pulled out a 6-1, 4-6, 13-11 win at No. 1 doubles against the tough Thoroughbreds. Cook and Kornagey also prevailed in singles. Cook was a 6-1, 6-4 winner at No. 1, but Kornagey had to dig deep to emerge with a 4-6, 7-5 (10-8) triumph at No. 4. Freshman Jo Jo Tiller was the other Bulldogs winner, scoring a 7-6, 6-2 success at No. 3 singles.
The Bulldogs have not played for a state title since securing its one and only championship in coach Roger Smoak’s 39 seasons in Camden in 1992. Ironically, the task was completed with a 4-3 win over Myrtle Beach, but that was back in the day before the Seahawks became the dominant force in 3A tennis. Since 1998, MB has won 10 of 11 Lower State titles and seven state championships. The imperious Seahawks have won three straight championships, and six of the last seven up for grabs.
Camden has made it to the Final Four three times in the last four seasons. The Bulldogs fell to Clinton and A.C. Flora in Upper State finales in 2008 and 2006, respectively.
The singles lineup has produced a 75-10 collective individual record this season. Cook is 15-1 at No. 1, junior Cauthen Tiller is 14-1 at No. 2, Jo Jo Tiller is 15-1 at No. 3, Kornagey, the only senior on the team, is 15-1 at No. 4 and eighth-grader Roderick Todd is 11-4 at No. 4.
The Bulldogs have struggled in doubles. Various pairings have managed a 13-9 record.
Chapin ended another fine season on a disappointing note. The Eagles (15-2) received wins from sophomores Kyle Koch and Alex Wallace at the top two singles spots, but came up short elsewhere. Koch finished with a 16-0 record at No. 1 singles, while Wallace closed at 13-3 at No. 2 singles.