The seedings might not appear to favor Porter-Gaud, but the brackets are all that matter as far as the SCISA Class AAA boys state tennis playoffs are concerned.
“I believe we have a good draw,” Porter-Gaud coach Tom Higgins said Saturday.
The Cyclones (11-2), seeded fourth despite splitting with Region III powers Hilton Head Prep (No. 2) and Hilton Head Christian (No. 3), will open the playoffs on Monday at the Porter-Gaud courts against No. 5 seed Wilson Hall (9-2) of Sumter. A win there would send Porter-Gaud to Columbia on Wednesday to take on top seed Hammond School (11-1) in the state semifinals.
Although Hammond is the No. 1 seed, Porter-Gaud would be a heavy favorite against Hammond, which appears to have benefited from playing in a weaker region.
It’s not surprising that Pinewood Prep coach Bryant McKee has a different opinion, considering the Panthers were left out of the six-team playoffs as a result of two teams from each of SCISA Class AAA’s three regions automatically qualifying for the state playoffs.
Pinewood Prep (7-6) scored a pair of convincing wins over Wilson Hall this season. The Panthers downed Wilson Hall, 8-1, then took five of the six singles positions in the other match before McKee inserted reserves in doubles to complete a 6-3 win. But Pinewood Prep finished 0-6 in powerful Region III.
Before Porter-Gaud and Hilton Head Prep took ownership of the state final in 2009, Pinewood Prep had played in three straight state finals, winning in 2007.
As a result of Wilson Hall being the only tennis-playing school from Region II, three of the six teams awarded berths in the playoffs are from Region III. Once-beaten two-time defending state champion Hilton Head Prep leads the way as the No. 2 seed.
Hilton Head Prep, which has played in five consecutive state finals, has a bye on Monday and will serve as a state semifinal host on Wednesday against Hilton Head Christian (6-3). Ben Lippen already has forfeited its first-round match to Hilton Head Christian.
The two Wednesday winners are scheduled to square off on Friday at a neutral site for the state championship. Hilton Head Prep and Porter-Gaud were placed in opposite halves of the draw as the top two finishers in Region III.
Palmetto Christian Academy faces Myrtle Beach’s Christian Academy on Tuesday at a neutral site in the Class A state playoffs. The winner will advance to Thursday’s state final against either Lowcountry Prep of Pawley’s Island or defending state champion Aiken Prep.
In Class AA, Beaufort Academy faces No. 5 Marlboro in Sumter on Monday in the first round, with the winner advancing to face No. 1 Spartanburg Day in Wednesday’s state semifinals. Williamsburg will play at Florence’s Trinity Collegiate on Wednesday.