Lexington, the only Midlands team left standing in the Class 4A girls tennis playoffs, travels to the Lowcountry on Thursday to face six-time defending state champion Wando in the Lower State title bout.
The Wildcats advanced to the Final Four phase of the postseason for the fifth time in the past six seasons by downing Beaufort 5-1 in third-round play on Tuesday.
“That was a tough, tough match, though the score might not look like it,” said Lexington coach Eric Jackson, whose team improved to 14-3.
In fact, four of the five singles matches were hotly contested affair that could have gone either way. Rachel Lovaas (No. 3) and Lauren Howard rebounded from first-set losses to win in the tie breaker. Katie Thompson prevailed 7-5, 7-5 at No. 4 singles. Eric Green lost in a tie breaker at No. 2 singles.
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The only players to have a relatively easy time of it were Morgan Patterson at No. 1 singles (6-3, 6-3) and Katie Lucas and Amy Lance at No. 2 doubles (6-2, 6-3).
“If we play at the same intensity level against Wando, I think we have a chance,” said Jackson. “They are not as strong as they have been the past few years, but that’s a relative thing. Wando’s B players are better than most team’s A players anyway.”
In fact, Wando entered the playoffs this season with a loss on the record for the first time in at least six years. The Warriors state-record dual-match winning streak came to an end in early October against SCISA powerhouse Ashley Hall. Wando’s 107-match streak is the best in SC tennis annals – boys or girls.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations record book, the Warriors run is tied for eighth place on the all-time list with Central High of Traverse City, MI.
Ashley Hall accounted for three of Wando’s four setbacks to date.
But in the only streak that matters right now, the Warriors are on a roll of 33 consecutive state playoff wins.
The Wildcats are very familiar with at least one Wando star – No. 1 singles starter Clair Larkin, who played at Lexington as a freshman and a sophomore.
Wando has sent Lexington packing in the Wildcats first two seasons in the Lower State. The Warriors eliminated Lexington in the third round last year, and beat the ‘Cats in the Lower State finals in 2008.