Rebuilding? The Lexington Wildcats simply reloaded in 2009 under new coach Eric Jackson.
In the end, Lexington was disappointed by a loss to archrival Irmo in the Class 4A Lower State championship match. The Wildcats, after all, beat the Yellow Jackets twice on the way to winning the Region 5-4A championship. Still, Lexington had yet another outstanding season - closing with a 20-2 record and advancing to the Final Four for the eighth year in a row.
“What a great season, especially after after losing five of six starters from the previous year's state runner-up team and this being my first year coaching the boys,” said Jackson. “I didn't expect too much from the guys. I knew they needed to get to know me and my coaching style. After a couple of tough scrimmages, the boys finally bonded at the Florence Tournament and things progressed nicely from there. The boys' confidence grew with each victory and it quickly became apparent this team could do special things. After going undefeated in the region (14-0), the boys really looked forward to seeing how far they could go in the playoffs. We ran into an Irmo team that peaked at the right time. Irmo came out with nothing to lose and just flat beat us. I'm very proud of everything the boys accomplished this season. They really are a great group of hard-working boys.”
And with only one departing senior, the Wildcats are expecting big things again next season.
Gordon Lucas, Ross Sons, Parker Adkins and William Lightle earned all-region recognition this spring. Lucas went 16-0 at No. 1 singles, Sons 12-3 at No. 2, Adkins 15-3 at No. 3 and Lightle 16-2 at No. 4.Brian Lim went 6-1 in doubles, and 8-3 after takinjg over at No. 5 singles.
The other returning starters are Grayson Hill (2-0 in singles, 10-2 in doubles) and Trey Swearingen (8-1 in singles, 8-1 in doubles.
The rest of the returning cast includes Brandon Mathews (4-0), Hampton Pickens (4-0, Nathan Sairam (5-0), Brett Clifton (6-0) and Ryan Lavisky (6-0).
Scott Graves, the only senior on the team, had a 7-0 record.
“With the disappointing end to the season, I'm sure the boys are going to have a bad taste in their mouths during the offseason,” said Jackson. “I'm hoping they'll use that as motivation to work hard, play tournaments, and come out even more focused next season. With every starter returning, I don't think there's any reason why we can't take things to the next level. I've got all of my starters returning as well as some good, young players I expect to make a push to start next year. The future is looking very bright for Lexington boys tennis.” Lucas was named the team MVP, Lim was voted the most improved player and Graves picked up the team spirit award.