Hilton Head Island High School's Tate Steinour was looking forward to facing Hampton Drake.
The Clemson-bound Hilton Head Christian Academy senior is the third-ranked junior boys tennis player in the state and arguably the best player in the area, and Steinour, a sophomore transfer from Richmond, Va., wanted his shot.
"I was pretty excited to have an opportunity," Steinour said. "I've never played against him before and I was looking forward to it."
Drake didn't play Friday, so Steinour had to settle for a 6-1, 6-1 win over Ben Likins at No. 1 singles and a 6-0 Hilton Head Island win over HHCA.
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The Seahawks didn't know Drake wouldn't play until about five minutes before the match, according to Steinour. Eagles head coach Eric Wammock said he found out around 4 p.m., just before match time.
"When we were warming up, I noticed he wasn't there. I was hearing whispers," Steinour said. "I'm sure (Ben Likins) wasn't expecting to play me either."
Steinour wasn't the only one caught off guard by Drake's absence.
"I was surprised to learn he wasn't coming along," Wammock said. "We knew we would have a tough battle against the High School, no matter what, but it certainly dampened our chances quite a bit."
With Drake's absence, the Eagles' players each simply played up a spot.
"Everybody moving up means everybody will have a much tougher match in their spot," Wammock said.
The Eagles coach said, even with the loss, that his team made progress Friday.
"I'm super proud of the way everyone fought today, the way they responded," Wammock said. "I look at it as an opportunity for the team to better themselves as players. They fought hard and believed."
Meanwhile, the Seahawks (7-1, 3-0 Region 8-AAA) are beginning to come together with a lineup that features two sophomores and two eighth-graders.
Hilton Head Island coach Jennifer Weitekamper has six seniors on her 12-man roster but just three have cracked the lineup.
"My kids are feeding off of each other," Weitekamper said, "and that is so nice to see."
Meanwhile, Steinour was lamenting his missed opportunity.
"I've gotten better since the beginning of the year now that I've got a couple of matches under my belt," Steinour said. "I feel like I would have given (Drake) a run."
Hilton Head Island 6, Hilton Head Christian Academy 0
Singles: No. 1 Tate Steinour def. Ben Likins 6-1, 6-1; No. 2 Matt Oliver def. Cameron Clark 6-3, 6-4; No. 3 Will Danzell def. Alex Likins 6-3, 6-0; No. 4 Stevie DeVincentis def. John Ziegler 6-0, 6-4; No. 5 Roman Battistelli def. Walker Wood 6-2, 6-3.
Doubles: No. 2 Brad Malool/Ian Schenkel def. Chris Michael/Tate Lucci 6-1, 6-1.