Beaufort High School's tennis team knew its recent history in the Lower State Class 4-A semifinals. Good, but not quite good enough.
The Eagles could not avoid a similar fate Tuesday, falling at home to Midlands power Lexington High School, 5-1.
The score appears one-sided, but the match was the closest of the Eagles' three losses at this stage the past three seasons. Three matches Tuesday went to third-set tiebreakers, including Beaufort High's lone victory, claimed by Chelsea Bellomy at No. 2 singles.
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"The score is what it is," Beaufort High coach David Riedmayer said. "But we know that it was really, really close."
Riedmayer praised his team's depth from the beginning of the season. To start the year, Riedmayer felt he had three girls who could legitimately play No. 1 singles. Many of the Eagles were now playing year-round and suffered through rigorous conditioning drills during the season.
Riedmayer felt the work was starting to pay off. And Lexington coach Eric Jackson echoed the coach's compliments Tuesday.
"Beaufort's deep," Jackson said. "We were just able to play a little better when we had to."
The difference was experience, Riedmayer said. The Eagles coach also coaches USTA junior teams during the school's offseason, but said Beaufort doesn't have the same junior program afforded by the Lexington Area Tennis Association.
"They're lucky enough to have a tennis association that supports juniors," he said.
The Wildcats will travel to Wando for the Lower State final. Wando has won five consecutive state tennis titles. Beaufort High would have earned a shot at the powerhouse had a few more shots gone its way.
The last two matches to finish Tuesday came at No. 4 and No. 5 singles. Beaufort High needed to win both to force another doubles match and the deciding point. But Beaufort High's Morgan McNeal fell 7-5, 7-5 at No. 4. And Shaye McAulliffe could not hold on in a third-set tiebreaker after winning the first set.
"Honestly, the match could have gone either way," Jackson said. "It's a close match-- good points, good games."
There was some controversy in the doubles match, when each side thought it was up 2-1 in the second set.
"Neither team was budging," Riedmayer said.
The resolution was to return to a score both teams agreed was accurate, which meant Lexington led 1-0. The Wildcats went on to win the doubles match 6-2, 6-3.
As a team, Beaufort High is done for the season. But for at least one Eagle, the competition will continue.
Beaufort High senior Marian Hohenwarter will represent the Eagles at the state singles tournament Nov. 11-12. Riedmayer also petitioned for Bellomy to get in the field. At-large selections were made Monday, but Riedmayer said after Tuesday's match he had not heard word on Bellomy's status.
Lexington 5, Beaufort High 1
Singles: No. 1 -- Morgan Patterson def. Marian Hohenwarter (B) 6-3, 6-3; No. 2-- Chelsea Bellomy (B) def. Erin Green 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 10-6; No. 3-- Rachel Lovaas def. Charlotte Bellomy (B) 3-6, 6-3, 15-13; No. 4-- Katie Thompson def. Morgan McNeal (B) 7-5, 7-5; No. 5-- Lauren Howard def. Shaye McAulliffe (B) 3-6, 6-4, 10-6
Doubles: No. 2-- Lucas/Lance def. Butler/Everidge (B) 6-2, 6-3