High School Sports

Bluffton boys score first playoff victory

Spencer Sasko has been a part of Bluffton High School's tennis program for six years. Chris Davis has been present for five.

They've seen the program at its worst. They watched as the Bobcats struggled to win matches during their first two seasons and chalked it up to growing pains.

This spring, they've helped turn the rags to riches.

The Bobcats added to their record-breaking season Thursday afternoon, winning the first playoff match in school history, a 5-1 victory against Darlington in the opening round of the Class 3-A playoffs.

"We badly wanted to do this today," Davis said. "We waited a long time for it."

The wait is over. And the season continues.

Bluffton will host Camden on Tuesday in the second round, more territory unfamiliar to a team that won the first region title in school history and captured its first two victories over rival Hilton Head High.

The Bobcats had little trouble disposing of Darlington on Thursday, winning four of the five singles matches in straight sets and adding a three-set doubles win. Sasko took a hard-fought loss to Alex Howle at No. 1 singles, the Bobcats' only loss of the day, but he left the court celebrating the playoff win with his teammates.

"These kids played very, very good today," Bobcats coach Bob Brown said. "We're just having a whole lot of fun right now."

A trio of underclassmen -- freshmen Richard Snyder and David Rosenblum and eighth-grader Aaron Newland -- gave the Bobcats a quick 3-0 lead.

Davis trailed 4-1 in the second set of his No. 2 singles match against Brent Harrison, but he fought back to win the set and take the match 6-1, 6-4, clinching Bluffton's team victory. The Bobcats added a win in the day's only doubles match, when Diego Garcia and Zack Rardon came back from one set down to defeat Zachary Ward and Austin Blackman 3-6, 6-1, 10-6.

"Actually, in that first set, I was kind of scared -- even with four years experience on this team, I was nervous," Rardon said. "First time ever here. It was an exciting feeling."

The Bobcats expect to have worked out the butterflies before Tuesday's matchup with Camden. The Bulldogs bounced the Bobcats from the postseason in last year's first round with a 6-0 win, but Brown believes his team has made up some of the gap.

"We owe them a little something, because they bageled us last year," Brown said. "We know they're a tougher opponent, but they're not unbeatable. It might be an exciting match."

Bluffton, 5, Darlington 1

Singles: No. 1 Alex Howle (D) def. Spencer Sasko 6-3, 6-4; No. 2 Chris Davis (B) def. Brent Harrison 6-1, 6-4; No. 3 Richard Snyder (B) def. Marcus Sigmon 6-3, 6-0; No. 4 David Rosenblum (B) def. William Jordan 6-3, 6-0; No. 5 Aaron Newland (B) def. Brandon Eads 6-2, 6-0.

Doubles: No. 2 Diego Garcia/Zack Rardon (B) def. Zachary Ward/Austin Blackman 3-6, 6-1, 10-6.