CAYCE S.C. — South Aiken coach Rakesh Jasani was hoping his team could lean a little on last season’s state championship for the Class AAAA boys tennis championship against a young Spartanburg team Saturday morning at the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center.
But the Thoroughbreds lost for the first time this season, dropping a 6-0 decision to the Vikings.
“We had a great season coming into here undefeated,” Jasani said. “We had some tough matches along the way in the playoffs and the kids should some resiliency and fought hard. We just played a better team today.”
Spartanburg (21-0) featured a lineup of a sophomore, four freshmen, an eighth-grader and a seventh-grader.
Conventional wisdom would say South Aiken would have the experience factor since it was in the championship last year but that made little difference.
“They’re young but they might be young on the high school scene but they play tournaments week in and week out. Experience doesn’t play too big of factor,” Jasani said. “Coming into last year, everybody was talking Dorman this and Dorman that, but we won. The score is going to reflect it was a beatdown, but in the end there were some close matches that could have gone either way.”
All five of the singles matches were competitive but South Aiken didn’t claim a point.
Jonny Bowman had the best chance, but he dropped a 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) decision to Omar Williams at No. 4 singles.
“We were just a little overmatched today. Our kids fought and we could easily have won some matches, but we lost the big points,” Jasani said. “In high school tennis, you have to win deuce and the big points, but they won most of those. I’m proud of my kids. It was a good season, but they were too good today.”
Spencer Brown (No. 1), Chambers Easterling (No. 2), Noah Nawabi (No. 3) and Bryce Keim (No. 5) rounded out the singles victories for the Vikings.
Arpit Maini and Phillip Jordan closed out the sweep with a pro set 8-3 win at No. 2 doubles.
This was the first-ever boys state championship in tennis for Spartanburg. The last time they made the finals came in 1976.
Despite the fact it had such a young team, the victory over crosstown rival Dorman in the semifinals gave Spartanburg a boost of confidence. The Vikings didn’t display many nerves and played to their capability, according to coach Todd Seagle.
“I think we had enough nerves on Wednesday in the Upper State against crosstown rival Dorman,” Seagle said. “Winning that settled them down pretty well. We came out loose and came out strong. That is what we wanted to do.”
Seagle is hopeful his youthful squad can make this an annual trip.
“We have all these young guys and will have two more seventh-graders coming next year that could break into the lineup,” he said. “We have a lot of talent and youth and it could be we win in several years in a row is what we’re hoping.”