Porter-Gaud advances to state final in boys tennis

Porter-Gaud junior Cross Tolliver concentrates on a forehand during his easy win at No. 1 singles in the Cyclones’ 6-0 sweep of Ben Lippen in the SCISA Class AAA Lower State boys tennis final on Thursday.

Upper bracket top seed Porter-Gaud lived up to its billing in Thursday’s SCISA Class AAA boys tennis state semifinals as the Cyclones (10-2) needed only about an hour to finish off a 6-0 victory over Columbia’s Ben Lippen (9-4) at the Porter-Gaud courts.

Coach Jonathan Barth’s young Porter-Gaud outfit yielded just 14 games in advancing to Friday’s 3 p.m. state championship match against Wilson Hall at Sumter’s Palmetto Tennis Center. Lower bracket top seed Wilson Hall (13-1) also wrapped up its berth in the final in singles on Thursday against Hammond School.

Junior Cross Tolliver and freshman Brant Fenno set the tone for the Cyclones’ singles sweep by giving up a total of three games at the Nos. 1 and 2 positions.

“It was good to get this match over in singles,” Barth said. “There was some pressure playing in a state semifinal since we lost last year in the semifinals (to Hilton Head Christian) after having been in the final five years in a row. I think the guys are happy to be back in the final. We’ll be ready to compete.

“I expect a lot of fans from Wilson Hall to be there,” the second-year P-G coach said about Sumter-based Wilson Hall, which scored an 8-1 win over Ben Lippen during the regular season.

Wilson Hall is expected to be a tough opponent for the Cyclones. The Barons are especially strong in the upper half of the lineup, which is led by SCISA Open champion Thomas Brown at No. 1.

“I’ve never played him (Brown) in singles, but I know he’s good,” Tolliver said. “I think we have a good chance of winning if we can win at the lower numbers.”

Fenno won’t be playing Brown in Friday’s final in singles, but the Porter-Gaud left-hander is well aware of Brown’s ability. “I played him in the SCISA Open final last year and beat him, but I lost to him the year before,” Fenno said.

PORTER-GAUD 6, BEN LIPPEN 0

SINGLES: Cross Tolliver (PG) def. Luke Berry, 6-1, 6-1; Brant Fenno (PG) def. Jeremy Bishop, 6-1, 6-0; Malone Vingi (PG) def. Will Cureton, 6-2, 6-2; Manning Snyder (PG) def. Tuller Gibbs, 6-4, 6-0, Jack Kammerer (PG) def. Daniel Waldner, 6-2, 6-1; Connor Craigie (PG) def. Christian Powers, 6-0, 6-0.