St. James tennis

St. James’ No. 1 singles player Nico Hoffman, above, lost to Socastee’s Britton Bellamy 6-2, 6-2 in Monday’s match. The Braves won 6-0 over the Sharks.

Spring officially starts March 20, but high school tennis couldn’t wait as the boys began their varsity season last week. Two teams with quite different expectations faced each other on the court, but, never-the-less, both teams had winning on their minds.

Socastee zipped through its St. James neighbor in a 6-0 victory as the home team Sharks struggled throughout the match. However, good sportsmanship prevailed and, hopefully, both teams walked away with more experience and a finer appreciation for the game of tennis.

“This was a relative easy match for us compared to our last weekend event when we played in our first preseason tournament in Florence at the Eddie Floyd Tennis Center,” said Socastee coach Beth Warstler.

The Braves entered a 16-team draw with some of the best teams in the state and finished with a 2-2 record. Warstler felt her team fell somewhere between 5-6 in the order of finish. She noted that every team in the Florence event was strong and loaded with experienced players.

As for her team, today she was very pleased and proud of the way they played.

“They took care of business and got off the court,” she said.

Last year this same team made it to the third round of the playoffs.

“Our goal is to make it to the state playoffs and be one of the finalists and, hopefully, the winner,” Warstler said.

Socastee played the following day at Prestwick Tennis Club and defeated North Myrtle Beach 6-1, giving the Braves an overall 2-0 record for the regular season.

St. James, on the other hand, is in a rebuilding year and they realize their worst enemy is a lack of experience.

“We expected these results because we knew how good Socastee is, and we lost five of our top seven players from last year’s team,” St. James coach Lee Cannon said. “This team is very young and very inexperienced.”

One bright spot for the Sharks is the addition of a foreign exchange student from Germany who will play the No. 1 singles position. Cannon was high on the play of his new junior player, Nico Hoffman, as he should help the team out immensely.

Cannon is realistic about this team and stated his main goal is to make them more consistent players on the tennis court. They do a lot of drills while trying to gain experience.

“These young players see stuff that they just can’t do yet,” Cannon said. “So we just do a lot of hitting and strive on being more consistent.”

St. James played the following day at home against the Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach and won in dramatic fashion in a tiebreaker in the final set to give the Sharks a 4-3 victory. After dropping the first set, the Sharks No. 1 doubles team got to a tiebreaker but found themselves down 5-9. But the resilient Sharks quickly got it together and won 4-6, 6-2, (11-9) to claim the match. St. James is 1-1 overall.

Results from the Socastee vs St. James tennis match was as follows:

— No. 1 Britton Bellamy (Soc) defeated Nico Hoffman 6-2, 6-2; No. 2 Noah Johnson (Soc) defeated Sullivan Young 6-0, 6-2; No. 3 Robert Warstler (Soc) defeated Joe Lewis 6-0, 6-0; No. 4 Brent Glasgow (Soc) defeated Ryan Cooper 6-0, 6-0 and No. 5 Nick LeFever (Soc) defeated Dylan Silvas 6-0, 6-0.

Socastee’s No. 2 doubles team of Brandon Rogers/Lap Fung Chan defeated Jack Seagle/Michael Knight 6-1, 6-1 to give the Braves a 6-0 victory over the Sharks.

St. James will play at home Monday, March 13, against Conway High School. Match time is 5 p.m.

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