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Pinewood Prep from Summerville, SC Finishes 5th at Jr. Team Tennis Nationals

October 31, 2008 05:36 PM

The Pinewood Prep 14U Advanced Tennis Team from the Lowcountry of South Carolina  returned Monday from the USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Championships in Mobile, Alabama, and what a journey it was! The team lost 3 of its original players due to the SCISA State High School Playoffs being held the same weekend in Sumter, SC, and they were not sure if they would qualify to compete at Nationals at all.

Well, did this team compete! After losing #1 Colleton Prep player, Sarah McDonald, # 1 Pinewood Prep player, Meagan Evans, and #6 player, Shauna Fletcher, to the high school playoffs, the entire load on the girls side was given to Porter Gaud’s #1 player, Mi’Kola Cooper. Cooper came through for this team in an unbelievable way! She was asked to play Girls Doubles with a substitute player from Columbia, Ashley Hawkins, whom she had never played with before. Mi’Kola doubled up in each match in order to play in the Mixed Doubles and went on to win almost all of her matches!

Due to the team tennis format of play, teams with less than the 3 girl and/or 3 boy minimum on the roster at match time must default the Singles position for the gender they are short in every match. Pinewood Prep had only 2 girls on the roster, and despite this huge disadvantage, the team overcame the odds  and posted 4 wins in 5 matches. The only match they lost all weekend was in pool play to Tracy Austin Academy from Texas, a team that went on to play in the finals.

The boys’ side of the tournament was just as impressive. The boys knew that they did not only need to win matches; they had to win matches big. Every game is counted at Nationals, and spotting the other team 12 points due to the Girls Singles default was truly a challenge! It was up to the 4 boys: Bailey Kirkland, Thomas Spratt, Zac Dye, and Adam Elliget, to do this for the team to have any chance of winning. The Boys’ Doubles teams of Adam Elliget and Zac Dye, as well as Thomas Spratt and Bailey Kirkland, went on to win all their doubles matches in the tournament. Not only did they go undefeated for the tournament, most wins were large enough to get a team win as well. The boys also won some really big Singles matches throughout the tournament and gave an overall great effort throughout the weekend. The team did go on to beat all the other 2nd place winners from the other brackets to take home the 5th place trophy.

Coach Jim Elliget had these words to say about his team: “The boys on this team represented Pinewood Prep, Berkeley High School, Porter Gaud, and Buist Academy. They have been friends for many years and many times had to compete against each other in tournaments. It was great to see them all come together as one team, and my hope is that they will not only be competitors, but friends for many years to come.”

“I could not be any prouder of the accomplishments that these 6 players achieved this week in Mobile! The field was as strong as expected, with many Academy teams coming from their section of the country. We played the best the country had to offer, and even short-handed, we came up just short. I want to thank everyone who had a part in this, and I hope we can go back next year with a full team and bring home the title of USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Champions to South Carolina!!!”

Coach Jim also wanted to send out a special thanks to their sponsors who helped make this trip possible from the financial side as well: Charleston Angler, Dorchester Lanes, Fireside Hearth & Home, and Cottageville Motor Sales. “The entire team thanks you for your generosity and support in helping our cause! A very special thanks goes to Joyce Arrington and the Lowcountry Junior Tennis Association. They sponsored our team throughout the entire journey: registration fees, helping us secure Ashley as a replacement player for Nationals, and kind words of encouragement throughout this long and sometimes stressful journey. To all of this, I say thanks from the entire team and that we were proud to represent South Carolina at Nationals!!!”

Pinewood Panthers 14U Advanced Tennis Team
Jimmy Elliget (Head Coach)
Danny Dye (Assistant Coach)
Adam Elliget, Zac Dye, Thomas Spratt, Bailey Kirkland (Boys Players)
Mi’Kola Cooper, Ashley Hawkins (Girls Players)