The Hilton Head Preparatory School boys tennis team boarded its bus, ready to come home after a long afternoon in Charleston late last month.
The Dolphins had just been swept in doubles by SCISAA power Porter-Gaud, despite concluding singles play in a 3-all stalemate. Before the bus rolled off, coach Clint Van Aswegan addressed the team.
"I said, 'Listen, this loss is on me,'" he recalled. "'It won't happen again. It's the regular season and I don't intend to make the same mistake twice.'"
Van Aswegan had mixed up his doubles teams in an attempt to catch the Cyclones off-guard. The move backfired in that 6-3 defeat, and ever since then the Dolphins have been focusing on their doubles play as they draw closer to their rematch with Porter-Gaud on April 17.
The revamped tandems were on display again Monday, where Prep won a pair of doubles matches in a 7-2 triumph over Hilton Head Island High. The Dolphins also won five of six singles matches to secure their second victory of the season over the Seahawks.
"They have a couple good players and they're a pretty young team, I think," Prep senior Andrew Schafer said of the Seahawks. "So it's nice to get a couple good wins under your belt, just get a little confidence. (We just have to) work on our doubles. That's what's going to be a big difference in the state tournament."
Schafer was once again the catalyst for Hilton Head Prep (6-1), which won its third straight match since the loss to Porter-Gaud. The University of South Carolina signee, who is ranked No. 20 nationally by TennisRecruiting.net, took a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Matt Oliver in No. 1 singles before teaming with Jared Myers for an 8-0 triumph in No. 1 doubles.
Prep also took a victory at No. 2 doubles, where Colton Lavery and Angelo Carrabba took down Matt Feldman and Phillip Tong 8-2. The Seahawks took the third and final doubles match, as Cole Bryant and Max Schremmer pulled out an 8-5 victory.
"We're trying to figure out what the best chemsitry between our best players is," Schafer said. "We're trying to find the best fit. I think we split up me and Jared in that match. I think we blended pretty well, so I think we're going to stick together as doubles partners for the rest of the season."
The two veterans teamed up last week to earn a doubles victory in a 6-3 win over rival Hilton Head Christian Academy. Woodson, another nationally-ranked Dolphin, took down Steven DeVincentis 6-1, 6-0 Monday in No. 2 singles. Prep also took three over singles matches, as the Seahawks saw only Ian Schenckel earn a victory at No. 5.
"There were tough matches at all the levels except the top two courts," Van Aswegan said. "Everybody battled from three down and I knew that. I needed to bring out my full squad."
The Seahawks (5-2), meanwhile, have mastered Region 8-AAA play, going 5-0, but have fallen twice this year to Prep. Coach Jennifer Weitekamper said Hilton Head High has aspirations of a state championship team this year, and to do so will need to face powers like the Dolphins.
Hilton Head High, which is led by the seventh-grader Oliver at No. 1, resumes region play today at Berkeley. The Dolphins return to the court Wednesday at St. Andrew's.
"(The region) is not preparing us for down the road," Weitekamper said. "Playing Prep with a full lineup like they had today puts perspective into the game and where we want to be in the season."
Hilton Head Prep 7, Hilton Head High 2
Singles -- No. 1: Andrew Schafer (HHP) def. Matt Oliver 6-1, 6-0; No. 2: Jared Woodson (HHP) def. Steven DeVincentis (HHP) 6-1, 6-0; No. 3: Colton Lavery (HHP) def. Brad Malool 6-2, 6-4; No. 4: Amit Kohli (HHP) def. Mitchell Brockman 6-2, 6-2; No. 5: Ian Schenckel (HHH) def. Matt Kandel 6-2, 6-1; No. 6: Angelo Carrabba (HHP) def. Sam Rothwell 6-1, 1-6, 10-7.
Doubles -- No. 1: Andrew Schafer/Jared Myers (HHP) def. Ian Schenkel/Steven DeVincentis 8-0; No. 2: Colton Lavery/Angelo Carrabba (HHP) def. Matt Feldman/Phillip Tong 8-2; No. 3: Cole Bryant/Max Schremmer (HHH) def. Matt Kandel/Sean Myers 8-5.