Stags’ Dye finishes fifth in state tennis tourney
Berkeley tennis player Zac Dye has closed out a stellar, six-year varsity tennis career that included two undefeated regular seasons and consecutive fifth place finishes in the Class AAA state tennis tournament.
Stags tennis coach George Whitaker said he knew what he was getting when he agreed to become Berkeley’s boys’ tennis coach this year.
“I did get to see Zac play last year at the state tournament,” Whitaker said. “So I got a good look at him and was ecstatic to come here to coach him.
Whitaker tried to prep his senior tennis star by scheduling matches against larger schools to give Dye some good competition, but found some teams reluctant to play. “The whole plan from day one was to prepare for the state tournament to win the state title,” Whitaker said.
Dye’s match record during the regular season was a perfect 16-0. He lost only one set and just 23 games during regular season singles play.
Dye teamed with number two singles player Dustin Fleming in doubles, and the pair went 8-0.
As a team the Stags finished second in Region 8AAA to James Island by virtue of a better out-of-region record for the Trojans.
Seeded eighth in the Class AAA state tournament Dye took the first round match against Madison Ott of Nation Ford High School, winning 7-5, 6-1. “Ott played a great match,” Whitaker said, “But Zac just took control in the latter part of the first set.”
In the second round Dye faced Robert Conley from Class AAA state team champion Socastee, winning 6-4, 6-4. “The match was close but when it mattered he put it away,” Dye’s coach said.
In the heat, Dye began experiencing cramps during his second round match, and was to face the tournament’s top seed in Wood Benton of Dorman.
“Zac was exhausted and Wood was fresh, only dropping one game in his first two matches,” Whitaker said. “Zac came out strong and on the first point aced him and won the first game. They exchanged big shots and in the end Wood won 6-2, 6-2.”
Whitaker added the match highlight for him came when Dye and Wood exchanged a volley of shots 12 times each with Dye hitting a big forehand winner. According to Whitaker both players were “sucking air,” and after the point Dye became physically ill on the sidelines.
“He never gave up during that match,” Whitaker said.
With the state title out of reach following the loss to Wood, Dye set his sights on the same fifth-place finish that he notched in 2012, when he finished the season with just one loss.
“Zac did not quit and our goal shifted to finish the year with only one loss and fifth in the state again,” Whitaker said.
Dye finished the day with a 3-0 mark and a fifth state ranking in the state and a selection to the Class AAA All-State tennis team.
“Zac stepped his game up a whole new level that I did not see in the regular season or practice,” Whitaker said. “No one at the tournament hit as hard as he did. I am so proud of him, in two years losing just two matches.”
In addition to his All-State selection, Dye was also named to play in the North/South All-Star tournament.