Valdosta Daily Times

April 25, 2013

Vikings fall in 1st round of state tennis playoffs

Christian Malone
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The Lowndes boys tennis team’s season ended with a 4-1 loss to Kennesaw Mountain in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs on Wednesday afternoon.

The Mustangs swept the three singles matches and split the two doubles matches on their way to the win.

Lowndes finished its season 18-3.

“This isn’t the finish that I would have liked,” Lowndes head coach Heath Phelps said. “We drew an incredibly strong region (4-6A), and Kennesaw Mountain is a solid No. 4 team out of that region.”

The two teams had met earlier in the season, at the Golden Isles Invitational on Jekyll Island, and the Mustangs had also prevailed 4-1 that day. Kennesaw won all three singles matches that day, and on Wednesday, strong singles play again carried the Mustangs to victory.

Joe Kloklow, Kennesaw Mountain’s No. 2 player, defeated Lowndes’ John Fuller 6-0, 6-1 and teammate Matt Osajima won 6-2, 6-2 over Ben Burkhalter at No. 3 singles.

Aaron Barris, Kennesaw Mountain’s No. 1 singles player, is a college prospect, and he played like one in the first set against Lowndes’ Samuel Price, winning 6-0. But Price bounced back in the second set and gave Barris a battle. They traded points throughout set No. 2, and finally went to a tiebreaker. But Barris won the tiebreaker 7-4 and closed out the match.

The doubles matches were two of the best matches. Both of them went three sets and included a second set tiebreaker.

Trent Parker and Dylan Farmer, Lowndes’ No. 1 doubles team, dominated the first set, winning 6-0. But Kennesaw Mountain’s Matt Gainey and Justin Thomas came back in the second set, and won a tiebreaker to force a third set. But Parker and Farmer were dominant once again in the decisive third set, and won 6-1 to take the match.

Kennesaw Mountain’s Michael Deatrick and Hunter Croxton won the first set of the No. 2 doubles match, 6-1. Lowndes’ Josh Fricker and Zack Ridge won the second set, 7-6. But Deatrick and Croxton took the third set, 6-2.

“Doubles played well, I thought,” Phelps said. “We split doubles, took them both to a third set.”

Despite the loss, Lowndes’ coach said the Vikings have had a good year. They won 18 of their 21 matches, and also won the Region 1-6A tournament.

“Overall, the guys had an outstanding season,” Phelps said. “I kept stressing to them they are young. We have one senior at No. 2 doubles, Zack Ridge. They didn’t give up today. They fought to the end. Kennesaw just came out on top.

“I’m proud of the guys. Unbelievable season. Fantastic season. I wouldn’t trade last Thursday’s region title for anything in the world.”