Moving up two places to No. 2 singles in a high school tennis lineup can be as challenging in some situations as the leap from high school to college tennis. That’s definitely true at perennial state champion Porter-Gaud.
Such a challenge has been Seth Pinosky’s fate this season for the Cyclones. Having suffered only two losses in his previous three seasons combined, he already has three this season for defending state champion Porter-Gaud (14-0) heading into today’s 12:30 p.m. SCISA Class AAA state boys championship match at Charleston Tennis Center against Hilton Head Prep (10-2).
Today could provide another big challenge for Pinosky, unless Hilton Head Prep ace Andrew Schafer happens to remain in Vero Beach, Fla., where he lost a late afternoon match on Thursday in a $10,000 futures tournament.
Not that Pinosky would play Schafer, but if Schafer is present, that would leave junior star Jared Woodson facing Pinosky in the No. 2 slot. Pinosky won a total of only five games in two regular season matches against Woodson. Going against Prep’s No. 3 player if Schafer doesn’t show up today might be like a cakewalk for Pinosky compared to having to face Woodson again.
Obviously, that would have a major impact on the overall title match. Hilton Head Prep is unbeaten against everyone but Porter-Gaud, which owns 6-3 and 5-4 wins over Schafer and the Dolphins this season.
“I wasn’t sure how this season would turn out. It’s definitely a big change from playing No. 4,” said Pinosky, who doesn’t plan to play college tennis.
This season was tougher than usual at the top two positions, because of the Schafer/Woodson presence at Prep and the Drake brothers (No. 5 nationally ranked boys 16 Hampton and Charlie) at Hilton Head Christian. Pinosky defeated senior Charlie Drake in their one regular season meeting, but lost in straight sets to Drake in the Cyclones’ 5-2 semifinal win.
While Pinosky has fared well in singles against everyone but Woodson, it’s doubles where Pinosky has had the greatest impact. It doesn’t hurt that Pinosky’s partner is 6-6 senior Thomas Spratt, who is bound for the University of Pennsylvania’s tennis program.
As veteran Porter-Gaud coach Tom Higgins said, “Playing with Thomas makes you look good.” But Pinosky has handled the pressure of playing No. 1 doubles for possibly the best high school or SCISA team in the state well.
“When Seth was a freshman and sophomore, he didn’t have a lot of confidence in doubles. But he’s turned into a formidable doubles player by taking the ball and coming in,” said Higgins, who is looking for his seventh state title in 11 years at Porter-Gaud.
Spratt is a big-time doubles player on the ad-side, with a tremendous cross-court backhand, not to mention big serves and forehands as well as pro-like volleys and overheads. He protects the 5-6 Pinosky well with his presence at the net.
Pinosky is a busy 17-year-old. He missed Porter-Gaud’s Thursday soccer match against James Island because of a conflict with the Porter-Gaud handbells choir’s annual concert that night.
Pinosky is happy that the tennis state final is today and not Monday. The soccer playoffs start next week, and he is looking forward to concentrating on just one sport.
With all of that going on, Pinosky is an honors student who is president of the local BBYO youth group as well as regional president of the Dixie Council BBYO youth organization that includes Charleston, Columbia, Savannah and Augusta.
Pinosky’s top choice for college is the University of North Carolina. He plans to decide between being a doctor like his dad Mark (P-G state title teams in 1976 and 1982) or an orthodontist.
PCA seeks AA title
Palmetto Christian Academy will oppose Spartanburg Day at 12:30 p.m. today at Sumter for the SCISA Class AA state tennis title.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.