High school tennis playoffs begin Tuesday

Wando boys' tennis coach Winde Ellenberg. James Beck/Staff

There’s bad news once again for Class AAAA boys tennis teams from the Lower State. All roads to the SCHSL Lower State final could run through South Aiken.

If that’s not a tough enough task alone, Region 5-AAAA runner-up Lexington again anchors the bottom of the Lower State draw as the state playoffs begin on Tuesday.

South Aiken won the 2013 state championship and was state runner-up last year as the Thoroughbreds advanced to the Lower State final for the fifth consecutive year.

“We’re excited about the playoffs and as always, we would like to go further than last year and hopefully play for Lower State and/or state,” veteran Wando coach Winde Ellenberg said. “But South Aiken is going to be great competition and Lexington always gives us a great match.”

With that in mind, Lexington has ended Wando’s season each of the last two years in the third round. And South Aiken took care of Region 8-AAAA Summerville in the second and third rounds in 2013 and 2014.

The good news for Wando is that the Warriors are the Region 7-AAAA champions and have gone unbeaten against SCHSL competition in the regular season. Wando’s only loss came against SCISA Class AAA state champion Porter-Gaud.

That means the Warriors will have the home-court advantage if they happen to face Lexington in the third round again. First, Wando must take care of a weaker Blythewood team on Tuesday in Mount Pleasant, then follow that up with another win at home on Thursday against the River Bluff/West Florence survivor.

Wando is strong at the top of the lineup with standout newcomer Scotty Carpenter at No. 1 singles and doubles.

Summerville plays host to James Island in Tuesday’s first round, and that one could be close after the Green Wave took three third-set tiebreakers in singles in last month’s 5-1 win. The winner of that one likely would travel to play a strong Socastee team in the second round, with a trip to South Aiken looming in the third round.

Meanwhile, 7-AAAA runner-up West Ashley will send its brothers act against visiting Fort Dorchester in the first round.

Brothers Junior (senior) and Ozzy Duarte (eighth grade) are sandwiched around brothers Ted (senior) and Stratas Anastopoulo (freshman) in West Ashley’s top four positions.

“If we win, we would go to South Aiken,” West Ashley coach Ronnie DuPre said, sizing up the Wildcats’ possibly short-lived playoff hopes.

The other local Class AAAA pairing will send Stratford to Bluffton for the first round.

In Class AAA, Berkeley will visit Hartsville on Tuesday, while Hanahan goes to Manning.

The Class AA state playoffs will begin on Thursday, with Bishop England a strong contender to reach the state final after shelling defending state champion Waccamaw, 5-1, last week.

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.