SUMTER -- The top of Dorman’s lineup made sure that the Lexington boys tennis team fell short of the state’s 4A title Saturday.
The freshman-senior combo of No. 1 Wood Benton and and No. 2 Jackson Keith were overwhelming in their singles matches then joined forces for a 6-0, 6-0 victory in No.1 doubles that decided the match 4-3 at Palmetto Tennis Center.
“They’re good,” said Lexington senior Parker Adkins, who lost 6-1, 6-1 in No. 1 singles then was stopped with his brother, eighth-grader Logan, in the decisive doubles match. “It’s not like we handed it to them. They really earned it.”
The teams entered familiar with each other following an April meeting, and the Wildcats knew they had to be at their best to reverse that 4-3 loss, but it was not to be.
“You saw the doubles score, they just rolled us,” Adkins said.
The Wildcats (18-5) saw their season end at this stage for the second time in a row, last year to Spring Valley. The Cavaliers (23-1) triumphed in their first trip to the state finals, which they earned by beating the defending champion Vikings.
“I’m proud of the accomplishments because no one thought we would be here at the beginning of the season, but obviously I want to win,” Adkins said. “I love my team, and it was a good season.”
The Cavaliers rushed to a 3-0 lead, but 10-point tiebreakers by No. 3 Logan Adkins over Patrick Tobacco and No. 4 Trey Swearington over Andrew Harvey pushed the drama to the doubles courts.
Brandon Matthews and Grayson Hill had little trouble with Dorman seniors Mayfield Reynolds and Jeffrey Bennett, 6-0, 6-1, to force the decisive seventh match.
“I knew the 3 and 4 would be deciding points, which is what it came down to,” said Dorman coach Sam Napier, who was especially thankful that he got a key contribution from freshman Barrett Hardy over Thomas Bryan at No. 5.
Hardy was down 4-3 in his first set, but stormed back for a 6-4, 6-1 victory.
“We needed that point,” Napier said. “He knew it, and he did it.”
Lexington coach Eric Jackson also had his eye on the No. 5 match, because Hardy was the Cavaliers’ big addition who was not in their first match -- a 6-foot-4 ninth grader against the Wildcats’ seventh-grader.
“He had his hands full,” Jackson said of Bryan’s size difference.
The Lexington boys were trying to add to a legacy that included state titles in 2002 and 2004-2006. This year’s playoff run included wins over Richland Northeast, Conway, Beaufort and South Aiken.
“This team has been a family,” Jackson said. “The kids were pretty loose today. They were happy to be here, but also focused and not as nervous as they were last year.”
Reach Hardy at (803) 771-8536.
Dorman 4, Lexington 3
Singles: Wood Benton (D) d. Parker Adkins 6-1, 6-1; Jackson Keith (D) d. Brian Lim 6-0, 6-0; Logan Adkins (L) d. Patrick Tobacco 4-6, 6-2, 10-8; Trey Swearington (L) d. Andrew Harvey 6-0, 4-6, 10-5; Barrett Hardy (D) d. Thomas Bryan 6-4, 6-1. Doubles: Brandon Matthew/Grayson Hill (L) d. Mayfield Reynolds/Jeffrey Bennett 6-0, 6-1; Benton/Keith (D) d. P. Adkins/Logan Adkins 6-0, 6-0.