By TREVOR ZION BAUKNIGHT
Item Sports Writer
The Sumter High School varsity boys tennis team got back on the winning track Thursday with a 5-2 win over Manning at the Sumter High tennis courts. The Gamecocks improved to 1-1 with the win while Manning fell to 0-1.
"I was pleased with they way they played today," said Sumter head coach Wayne Brown, in his fifth year at the helm. "I thought we played pretty good for early in the season, and we look to improve as the season goes along, but I was pleased with they way they played."
The middle of Sumter's lineup quickly gave the Gamecocks a 3-0 lead, as No.2 Jay Patel beat Manning's Corbin Aldridge 6-1, 6-1, No.3 Jivan Dave' topped Reynolds Moore 6-0, 6-0 and No.4 Raj Patel beat Xavier Boatwright 6-2, 6-1.
Manning got in the win column when No.1 singles player Nate Lyles got a point for the Monarchs, defeating Rajiv Bery 6-2, 6-4. Bery is a sophomore, but will be moving with his family after this year.
Sumter's No.2 doubles team of Ken Bock and James Robinson sealed the match a short time later, when they defeated Logan Layne and Evan Bragg 6-0, 6-2.
Manning picked up another point when its No.1 doubles team of Lyles and Aldridge defeated Bery and Jay Patel 6-2, 6-2. Sumter's Abram Smith finished the day for the Gamecocks with a third-set tiebreaker win over Dequan Williams. Smith won 6-4, 5-7, 10-7 to make the final 5-2.
"We've got a lot of young players," said Manning head coach Kay Young. "We're inexperienced. We only graduated a couple out of the starting line up (from last year), but still, in high school tennis, most of the matches are determined on (Nos.) 3, 4, 5 and No.2 doubles. We're just not putting a lot of experience in those positions. We're getting there, but we're just not quite there yet.
Keith Gedamke / The Item
Sumter's top player Rajiv Berry lost 6-2, 6-4 in his singles and 6-2, 6-2 in his doubles match.
Brown's team is also working to overcome inexperience, with only two seniors, Dave' and Smith.
"We've got a lot of inexperience this year," Brown said. "Over the last two or three years, we've graduated a lot of players that had been playing for years, and we're going to miss their experience. We've got two seniors on the team this year, and the rest are underclassmen."
Sumter will host Camden Military on Monday at 5 p.m. as they warm up to host their first region match on Tuesday against defending 4A state champion West Florence. Manning hosts Bishop England on Monday.
Brown said he expects another tough year in region play with the defending state champions, West Florence, back with its whole team from last year.
"I don't think they lost anybody," Brown said. "So we know we've got a tough match there. We played some good matches against them (last year), but it's hard to beat them right now. They've got a lot of good, young players who play tournaments year-round, and highly-ranked players, and it's just difficult to compete against them right now. In the past few years, we've played some good matches against them, but haven't come out on the winning side.
"We're just kind of in rebuilding mode this year."