The match score was 3-all with the deciding doubles underway and then it was … lights out … literally, and the outcome was still in the dark. Fortunately, they got the overhead tennis court lights back on and the match was completed. But not before there were some heroic fireworks on the court.
Socastee just slipped by their visiting rival Myrtle Beach with a 4-3 win that was about as close as a tennis match could be. Five match tiebreakers were played with almost every match going down to the wire for a nail-biting climactic finish. Only Myrtle Beach’s No. 2 doubles team had an easy time.
“Tonight’s match was everything we expected and more,” Socastee coach Kirk McQuiddy said. “We played Myrtle Beach at their place about four weeks ago and they gave us a very good match with my team winning 4-2. But in this match, we didn’t have our No. 1 singles player, Britton Bellamy, because he was ill with the flu. And everybody had to move up a position. It really came down to the No. 5 singles player, Nick LeFever, who hasn’t played much singles for us at all this year. By him winning, we were able to tie Myrtle Beach at 3-3. Then it was in the hands of our No. 1 doubles team to either win or lose this match.”
But near the end of the first set, a couple of the Socastee home court lights shut down and it took about 20 minutes to get them turned on again. And 20 minutes is a long time for the players to think about what was at stake in this final match with Socastee up 5-4 in the set.
Unfazed by the delay, Socastee’s Noah Johnson and Connor Barr won their serve in that set to win 6-4 but the resilient Seahawk team of John Ed Cahill and Josh Wallen fought back to even the score with a 6-1 second-set score to even the match. Utilizing the 10-point tiebreaker the Braves prevailed with an extremely close 10-8 win giving them the overall team victory.
Here are the final results of the team matches: No. 1 Singles John Ed Cahill (MB) def. Noah Johnson 5-7, 7-6, (11-9); No. 2 Isaac Giddens (MB) def. Robert Warstler 6-3, 6-3; No. 3 Connor Barr (SOC) def. Josh Wallen 6-4, 7-5; No. 4 Brent Glasgow (SOC) def. William Vaught 6-4, 3-6, (10-3) and No. 5 Nickolas LeFever (SOC) def. Ryan Burch 6-4, 3-6, (10-8).
In the No. 1 Doubles: Noah Johnson/Connor Barr (SOC) def. John Ed Cahill/Josh Wallen 6-4, 1-6, (10-8) and the No. 2 Doubles: Grant Singleton/Corbin Duerk (MB) def. Brandon Rogers/Jeremy Masher 6-1, 6-0.
Although these two teams belong to different regions the competitiveness and rivalry remains the same. Socastee moved up to Region VI-AAAA two years ago while Myrtle Beach is still in Region VII-AAA. Socastee is 10-0 overall and 5-0 in their region and Myrtle Beach is 5-5 overall and 4-1 in their region.
“Our biggest region competition is West Florence and our biggest non-region competition is Myrtle Beach,” McQuiddy said.
Coach McQuiddy praised the Myrtle Beach Seahawk team immensely as he stated for such a young team they have a tremendous amount of potential. They are very well coached and are going to be very strong in the years to come.
Socastee’s Noah Johnson, who normally plays the No. 2 slot, had to move up and play the No. 1 position for the first time this season since the Braves No. 1 player was out sick. And although the 16 year-old sophomore lost his singles match, he won the deciding doubles match with partner Connor Barr to keep Socastee undefeated this year.
“We all had to step-up today and I’m really proud of my teammates,” Johnson said. “Being No. 1 is a lot of responsibility and it’s a bigger burden on your shoulders. Overall, I’m happy with everyone’s performance and it’s just great to have this win.”
“We had plenty of shots to finish it,” Myrtle Beach coach John Hairston said. “We had our chances at No. 5 singles and at No. 1 doubles … on a different day, this would have been our match. I haven’t beaten Socastee yet in my career and this is as close as I’ve gotten. I expect next year we’ll get even closer.”
The much-improved Seahawks are coming off of one of their biggest wins this year as they defeated the defending region champion Wilson 5-2 last week.
Myrtle Beach will play away this Monday at West Florence and then return home Tuesday against Georgetown. Match times are 5 p.m.
Socastee will play at Prestwick Tennis Club Tuesday against Carolina Forest. Match time will be 5 p.m.
Neal Peterson • 650-5505