Friday, May 9, 2014
Losing six-year number one singles player Zach Dye to graduation last year left a gaping hole in the Berkeley Stags tennis team, but it’s done its best to fill the void and have moved on well as is the nature of high school sports.
While struggling at times to get their game legs, the Stags have risen to a 10-5 record this season and, according to Coach George Whittaker, are battling for a playoff spot.
“Losing Zac Dye was big, but as a team, everyone has gotten so much better and we are a better team this year from it,” Whittaker said.
Berkeley finds itself in a familiar spot, batting James Island for second place in Region 8AAA. It is a battle the Stags hope they can rally to win as the playoffs near.
“Hopefully we can win those close matches this time and take second place in the region,” Whittaker said. “We would be Hosting a first round playoff match against Myrtle Beach or Wilson.”
BHS fell to the Trojans 4-3 in a tight match on April 10, losing two matches 10-8 on a third set tiebreaker.
Singles winners were Matt Marsch and James Gianelli. And the doubles team of Gray Livingston and Dallas Hamilton won in a third set tiebreaker.
On April 26 the Stags were shut out by defending state champion Hilton Head 6-0.
In April, the Stags won matches against Orangeburg Wilkinson (6-0), Fort Dorchester (5-1) and Hanahan (4-2) while losing to James Island and Hilton Head.
Against Hanahan, singles winners were Marsch, Samuel Giannelli and James Gianellli. The doubles team of Livingston and Hamilton also won.
Lining up against Fort Dorchester, winners were Russell Brown, Samuel Giannelli, Marsch, and James Gianellli. Livingston and Hamilton won their doubles match.
Leading the Stags on the court are Matt Marsch (14-1) and James Giannelli (15-1) with both suffering just one loss each this season. Both losses were to topranked Hilton Head.
Whittaker though, had high praise for his number one singles player Dustin Fleming, who has been forced into taking one for the team in going up against other number one seeds in Region 8AAA this season.
Dustin has not won a lot of matches this year,” Whittaker said. “He has taken that so well and knows it’s best for the team. He would probably be undefeated at the second or third spot, but he is our best player and a great leader for us.”
Berkeley must win against James Island in order to clinch second place in Region 8AAA and host a first round playoff match, or finish third and hit the road.
The first match against the Trojans was close. “We were literally two points from winning and four points away from winning 5-2,” Whittaker said. “So hopefully we can improve and beat them the second time.”