High School Sports

Playing for its late coach, emotional Myrtle Beach squad too much for AC Flora in tennis final

Watch: Myrtle Beach boys tennis win Class 4A title

Myrtle Beach defeated AC Flora to win the Class 4A boys tennis championship on May 11, 2019.
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Myrtle Beach defeated AC Flora to win the Class 4A boys tennis championship on May 11, 2019.

A.C. Flora marched into the Class 4A boy’s tennis state championship with one senior and no juniors on the roster.

Being such a young team, Falcons coach Amy Martin knew they would have to fight through the nerves and a talented Myrtle Beach squad if they wanted to capture their first state title since 2015.

Add in the fact the Seahawks were playing for legendary coach Rivers Lynch, who passed away unexpectedly two weeks ago at the age of 72, and the Falcons’ battle would need to be monumental.

Myrtle Beach used that emotion for a 6-0 victory Saturday morning at the Cayce Tennis Center.

“After graduating over half of the lineup last year, to get this far is huge,” Martin said.

“Of course, they wanted to do it for their coach, their mentor, their granddad. We all face tough times and unfortunately this happened to them during the playoffs. I think it fueled their motivation. They are loaded with depth and talent, but this added more to it.”

The Seahawks didn’t drop a set in sweeping all six matches. Interim coach Jeremy Finger said this was the only ending possible for this team.

“Truthfully, on that Sunday after coach Lynch passed, we knew we had a job to do and we would do it,” Finger said. “I wouldn’t have cared how we capped it off, just as long as we did it. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster the last two weeks with a legend passing. What didn’t pass is what he taught the boys, these kids and this community. For us to honor that by following through with his dream is really a moment of a lifetime.”

Martin knew Lynch well. She felt the Seahawks would do everything they could to win a title in his honor. Lynch won 11 state titles at the school – eight with girls and three more with the boy’s team from 2007-2009, when he stepped away. He returned to coach the team in 2016.

“We made it a match about two schools and that’s what Rivers would have wanted. I adored him,” Martin said.

Lynch had two grandsons in the starting lineup – freshman Rivers Cahill played No. 1 singles and senior John Edward Cahill played No. 3 singles. It was only fitting that John Edwards Cahill’s victory was the clinching point of the match.

“This is everything,” Cahill said. “It was his goal before he passed. A week before he passed away, he talked to us on how to become a family. I think we really listened very hard that week. Then all the tragedy we went through that Sunday, we really took that word throughout the entire playoffs. We became a family.”

By the time the teams assembled on the court for the trophy presentation, Teresa Lynch, River’s wife of 50 years, was there to take part in the celebration. When she touched the championship trophy, it was a bit of closure on an emotional two-week journey.

“These boys finished a dream Rivers talked about in February,” Teresa Lynch said. “He said he was going to coach the team again and he felt like these boys really had the potential to be one of his state champions. They have finished his dream. I am grateful. Everyone has been so supportive.”

Singles: Rivers Cahill d. Michael Davis 6-3, 7-5; Josh Wallen d. Alex Echols 6-2, 6-1; John Edward Cahill d. Rick Hewitt 6-1, 6-2; Robert Warstler d. William Overdyke 6-1, 6-0; Dever Smith d. Calhoun McCullough 6-2, 6-1. Doubles: W.T. Vaught-Bailey Morrow d. Lucas Jeffords/Myers Murphy 6-0, 6-0.

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