David Riedmayer found no room to sugercoat his team's underdog status Tuesday.
And so the Beaufort High School boys tennis coach told his team it would need to hustle, to chase down shots and work for every point during its Class 4-A playoff match against Midlands power Lexington.
The third-round meeting, on Beaufort High's courts, would determine who advances to the Lower State final. Lexington reached the state title match the previous season. And the Eagles knew they faced another solid Wildcats team.
The plan was to win the top two singles matches, where Beaufort High felt confident it matched up well, and hope one of the Eagles came through on the other courts.
But Lexington made quick work of the bottom four matches on its way to a 5-1 victory. James Bachety earned the Eagles' lone point with a win in a 10-point tiebreaker at No. 2 singles.
"I knew it was going to be tough," Bachety said.
Lexington ended what matched Beaufort High's best playoff run. The Eagles also reached the third round in 2006. But the same storyline unfolded.
When faced with a Columbia-area opponent, the Eagles have bowed out.
The difference this season was the young Eagles won Region 8-AAAA. The top seed gave Beaufort High a better draw and helped them equal the success of the Eagles' 2006 season. The draw also meant the Wildcats had to travel.
But Lexington proved too strong. The Wildcats' top two in singles, Parker Adkins and Brian Lim, are North/South All-Star selections and will play for the South squad coached by Riedmayer later this month.
The Eagles felt they would be competitive at the top. And Lexington coach Eric Jackson told his bottom four to take care of business so they could cheer on the top two.
And so, long after the match was decided, Bachety and Eagles teammate Malcolm Kates fought to salvage points for their team. Bachety won his after dropping the second set. Adkins came from behind in both sets to defeat Kates.
"They were in the third round of the playoffs and won region," Adkins said. "We knew it was going to be tough."
The Eagles, without a senior, reflected on what their season might be like next year if everyone returns. Riedmayer encouraged his players to play during the offseason.
Bachety said he has an open invitation to teammates to meet him at the courts and hit. But he said it's not often someone takes him up on the offer, that they hang it up until next spring.
The Eagles can build on this season if they work at it, he said.
"We won region, we were seeded No. 1 and won two rounds," he said. "That's a big leap forward."
Lexington 5, Beaufort High 1
Singles: No. 1 Parker Adkins (L) def. Malcolm Kates 7-5, 6-4; James Bachety (B) def. Brian Lim 7-5, 1-6, 10-7; Logan Adkins (L) def. Hunter Pylant 6-1, 6-0; Trey Swearingen (L) def. Anthony Williams 6-1, 6-0; Thomas Bryan (L) def. Alex Angus 6-3, 6-0.
Doubles: Brandon Matthews/Grayson Hill (L) def. Rohan Desai/Damonte Glass 6-0, 6-2.