Marcus Ferreira was still off in the distance as his Hilton Head Prep teammates made their way onto the court for introductions before Thursday’s SCISA Class 2-A final against Hilton Head Christian. He was racing at the end, too, intent on being the one to slam the door.
Consider him well-timed on both counts.
The lanky sophomore took control of both his singles and doubles matches, backed by Prep’s depth in the lower half of the lineup as the Dolphins completed a third consecutive state title run with a 5-2 triumph over their cross-island rivals.
Frank Lin, Justin Perez and Evan Hryckiewicz also took straight-sets victories in the Nos. 4-6 singles slots, leaving Prep needing just one win in doubles to wrap up the title at Hilton Head Island Beach & Tennis Club.
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“This is huge,” Prep coach Clint Van Aswegen said. “Three in a row doesn’t happen often. That’s the big part. I don’t even know if we’ve ever done it before. I know the girls have, but I don’t know if the guys ever have.”
The Prep girls are themselves on a streak of four consecutive titles, most recently last October’s win over Trinity-Byrnes by the same 5-2 score. The boys, though, don’t have anything as recent.
“I think it’s pretty incredible,” said senior captain Sam Fried. “There’s not a lot of high schools that can say they’ve won a championship three times in a row.”
Hilton Head Christian, meanwhile, came away from its third visit to the championship match in the same way as it had the other two — with the runner-up trophy. They were on the other side of the net for Prep’s 2014 title, and again two years earlier in falling to Porter-Gaud.
The Eagles and Dolphins had split two previous encounters this season, but in both cases Prep had at least one regular out of the lineup.
“It just proved at the end that they were a little too deep for us,” Eagles coach Eric Wammock said. “I thought everybody gave it a great fight. Even though we were close with them early in the season, when they had their full lineup it indeed made a difference.”
Alex Likins and Davis Phillips provided HHCA’s points, with Likins beating Fried in the No. 2 matchup and Phillips outlasting Prep’s Rodney Sturgis 6-4, 6-3.
The essence of the match turned in the No. 4 match, where Lin dispatched the Eagles’ Tate Lucci by a 6-2, 6-2 count that was tighter than the score indicated. The match was marked by several lengthy games, finishing significantly after the other singles.
“There was a battle there,” Van Aswegen said, “and if we lose that set, it’s a coin flip for the tiebreaker. Then it could have been 3-3 instead of 4-2. That changes the dynamic big-time.”
The dynamic really could have been shaken up even more if Ferreira had gotten stuck in traffic on the way to the Beach & Tennis Club.
The son of former ATP pro Wayne Ferreira had been given permission to warm up at home, about 10 minutes from the match venue. But a miscommunication on timing — arrival time vs. match time — left Van Aswegen anxiously on his phone in the final minutes before introductions.
“I was trying to find out exactly where he was,” the coach acknowledged, noting that he’d been assured earlier the Ferreiras were on their way.
“So I knew he was coming but, yeeeeeeaaaah, it’s Hilton Head traffic. This could be a while. That was the concern.”
The younger Ferreira deadpanned: “Oops. What’s a win without a good movie-dramatic entry?”
Ferreira made good on the script, dispatching HHCA’s Cameron Clark — a Coker College signee — with a brilliant display of shots for a 6-0, 6-1 victory.
Ferreira and Fried also got the Dolphins’ final laugh in doubles, finishing off the three-peat with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Clark and Likins, with the time between points growing noticeably shorter in the second set.
As it turned out, the Prep tandems were racing each other to see who could deliver the clinching point. Ferreira and Fried even had “neglected” to change the score on their court to lull Sturgis and Lin into a false sense of security on the next court.
Once the fifth point was won, the other matches were abandoned.
“Dang,” a surprised Sturgis said. “Another minute and we would have had you guys.”
Hilton Head Prep 5, Hilton Head Christian 2
1. Marcus Ferreira (HHP) def. Cameron Clark (HHCA), 6-0, 6-1.
2. Alex Likins (HHCA) def. Sam Fried (HHP), 6-1, 6-1.
3. Davis Phillips (HHCA) def. Rodney Sturgis (HHP), 6-4, 6-3.
4. Frank Lin (HHP) def. Tate Lucci (HHCA), 6-2, 6-2.
5. Justin Perez (HHP) def. Charles Michael (HHCA), 6-2, 6-1.
6. Evan Hryckiewicz (HHP) def. John Minter (HHCA), 6-0, 6-1.
1. Ferreira/Fried (HHP) def. Clark/Likins (HHCA), 6-2, 6-1.
2. Sturgis/Lin (HHP) vs. Phillips/Lucci (HHCA), susp.
3. Perez/Hryckiewicz (HHP) vs. Michael/Minter (HHCA), susp.
Note: Remaining doubles matches were abandoned after winning point clinched