The championship of SCISA boys tennis’ highest level is returning to Porter-Gaud for the 15th time in the last 21 seasons after the Cyclones’ convincing 5-1 victory over Wilson Hall in Friday’s Class AAA state final in Sumter.
Porter-Gaud’s non-senior lineup pulled out third-set match tiebreakers by sophomore Malone Vingi and freshman Manning Snyder at Nos. 3 and 4 to finish off homestanding Wilson Hall (13-2) in singles with the aid of a rally by sophomore Jack Kammerer from 4-1 down in the second set at No. 5.
With three freshmen and two sophomores winning in the Nos. 2-6 positions — Brant Fenno, Vingi, Snyder, Kammerer and Connor Craigie — the Cyclones (11-2) made the final score of a battle of the top seeds from the upper and lower brackets look one-sided.
But the singles verdict could have been much closer, without the toughness of Vingi and Snyder as well as Kammerer’s rally to close out his 6-3, 6-4.
“They (Vingi, Snyder and Kammerer) really came through today, and got the job done,” second-year Porter-Gaud coach Jonathan Barth said. “It feels good to get my first title as a head coach after being Tom’s (Tom Higgins) assistant five years and winning three times.”
In the much anticipated battle at No. 1, Wilson Hall ace Thomas Brown defeated P-G junior Cross Tolliver, 6-3, 6-2.
“It could have been 3-3 in singles if Malone, Manning and Jack hadn’t pulled out their matches,” Fenno pointed out. The freshman left-hander was quite happy about the quick finish as he headed immediately after the match for Clemson to begin competition on Saturday morning in a national level 4 junior tournament.
“This one is my second state title, and it feels so great ... just like the one two years ago,” said Fenno, whose 6-1, 6-2 win over Wilson Hall’s Trey Davis gave the Cyclones their first point of the final. “It’s a great feeling to have everyone play so well and pull it out.”
Vingi was especially happy about closing out an 11-9 match tiebreaker win over sophomore Hunter Hendrix at No. 3, as he remembered last year’s heartbreaking loss at No. 4 singles in a third-set tiebreaker in the Cyclones’ 5-4 state semifinal loss to Hilton Head Christian.
“This was a much better day ... no doublefaults, but the match last year helped me today,” Vingi said.
“Jack (Kammerer) and I finished at exactly the same time. We were lucky to get out of there without having to play doubles,” added Vingi, who plays a big game with heavy top spin.
Vingi will always remember his last point in this year’s title match. “I was serving at 10-9, and served a big one to his backhand, and then I hit a forehand to his backhand. It wasn’t a winner, but he couldn’t get it back,” he said.
And, then, the celebration began.
PORTER-GAUD 5, WILSON HALL 1
Singles: Thomas Brown (WH) def. Cross Tolliver, 6-3, 6-2; Brant Fenno (PG) def. Trey Davis, 6-1, 6-2; Malone Vingi (PG) def. Hunter Hendrix, 6-2, 4-6, 11-9; Manning Snyder (PG) def. Tradd Stover, 3-6, 6-3, 10-6; Jack Kammerer (PG) def. Pierce Thompson, 6-3, 6-4; Connor Craigie (PG) def. Chandler Stone, 6-2, 6-2.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org.