Contributed by Coach David Corley
Lady Raiders Fall in Opening Round of 4-A Play-offs
The LDHS Lady Raider Tennis Team fell to Irmo High School in the opening round of the state play-offs Tuesday night but played well in the loss and established a basis for next year’s season.
“This is our fourth straight playoff trip,” Coach David Corley said, “but it’s time for us to take the next step. Our two seniors [#1 Sara Kalyn Croker and #2 Brittany Horner] have really had a successful run at LDHS; I hope our younger girls will take the challenge to move us to the next level. We have some really good players coming back next year – and they’ve tasted victory and defeat this year. They’ll have to choose which tastes better.”
#1 Sara Kalyn Croker 0-6, 0-6 to Isabella Cooper.
#2 Brittany Horner 0-6, 0-6 to Abby Cooper
#3 Kathleen Horner 2-6, 0-6 to Holly Reynolds.
#4 Bailey Rush 0-6, 0-6 to Keely Lassiter
#5 Ally DeVuono 0-6, 1-6 to Andrea Johnson.
# 1 Doubles Croker and B. Horner 3-8 to I. Cooper and A. Cooper
#2 Doubles Moriah Campbell and Kambrea Gosnell 1-6, 1-6 to Kendra Hoffman and Bailey Bennett
The Raiders finished with a loss on which they can build, according to Coach Corley. “I hope the girls saw that they could compete. Tonight wasn’t a blow-out. We were in each point and picked up some games – especially our younger players. I think our girls saw this year that winning happens in the off-season – with working out, with lessons, with tournament play. I think they’re ready to start working on next season tomorrow instead of next August. That attitude is what we’ll build on.”
Lady Raiders Beat Hillcrest in Re-match, Head to Playoffs Tuesday
The LDHS Lady Raider Tennis team defeated Hillcrest 4-3 in their rain re-scheduled final regular season match Wednesday night at the Laurens City Courts. The team moved to 9-5 in region play, tying with Hillcrest for third in the region and heading to the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.
The Raiders picked up wins at four of their five singles matches to take the win, losing at #2 and both doubles.
#1 Sara Kalyn Croker dropped her first game before regaining her composure to secure a 6-1, 6-3 win against Emma Epps. Croker played the same consistent ground strokes that have been the hallmarks of her season to take her second win over the Hillcrest #1. Croker leads the Raiders with a 11-3 record at #1 singles. “SK has had a fantastic year,” Raider Coach David Corley said. Croker’s only losses came to Hanna (both matches) and Mann.
#3 Kathleen Horner defeated Christen Crawford 6-4, 6-2. “Kathleen has come around since the last time she played Crawford, and both she and her sister [#2 Brittany Horner] have really upped their games in the last couple of weeks,” Coach Corley said. Brittany Horner lost 4-6, 3-6 in a hard-fought match.
#4 Bailey Rush came into the evening, having lost a close match in her first meeting with Lauren Kelly (2-6, 6-7 (6-8)). Rush fell in the first set 4-6 before coming back to win the second 6-1. Rush battled back from two match tiebreak points to defeat Kelly 12-10. “Kelly drove Bailey crazy in the first set with spin and drop shots,” Coach Corley said. “I think for awhile Bailey was playing her opponent’s game and not hitting the hard ground stokes she is capable of. Finally, she began to play her own game and battle back to win.”
#5 Ally DeVuono defeated Hannah Owens 7-6 (8-6), 6-4. DeVuono had battled through illness to gain a narrow win when the pair first met. Owens dropped balls short and then moved DeVuono around the court. Ultimately, DeVuono began to place her own shots rather than simply being a backboard for her opponent. “Ally battled,” Corley said. “She and Bailey had to fight for their wins.”
#2 Doubles Moriah Campbell and Kambrea Gosnell fell to Courtney Tucker and Madison Carver 2-6, 2-6.
#1 Doubles Sara Kalyn Croker and Brittany Horner lost their first set 2-6 before taking the first game of the second set. The Raider pair then dropped five straight games before taking their second game and then continuing their come-back to take the second set 7-5. The Raider seniors fell in the match tiebreak 4-10 to Emma Epps and Katie Tuten.
Jayvee Raiders’ Pro-Set Scores:
Addy Pitts and Reagan Hall Doubles 8-0
Maya Ramirez 8-5
Julianne Turner and Ella Orcutt 8-9 (2-7)
Anna Bottu 5-8
The Raiders will play in the first round of the state playoffs on Tuesday against a to be determined team. This playoff trip is the fourth in a row for the Lady Raider team.
Lady Raiders Defeat Greenwood 6-1, Secure Playoff Bid
The LDHS Lady Raider Tennis team secured its fourth consecutive playoff bid Thursday night, defeating Greenwood 6-1 and moving into the final week of the season at 8-4 in region play. The Raiders have assured a fourth-place finish but have #2 JL Mann and #3 Hillcrest left to play next week.
The Raiders picked up wins in all but one singles match and picked up both doubles wins to better their earlier 5-2 home win over Greenwood.
The Raiders #2 doubles team of Moriah Campbell and Kambrea Gosnell battled to an 8-6 pro-set victory in one of the evening’s closest contests. The Laurens girls traded games with Greenwood until the score stood at 5-6. “The Greenwood coach reminded his girls what to do in a tiebreak at the 5-6 change-over; it was that close,” LDHS Coach David Corley said. “I reminded my girls that if they won three straight, we wouldn’t need a tiebreak.”
The Raider pair, Corley said, has really grown this season, but until the Greenwood win had not gotten over the hump of winning close matches. “Tonight’s win is the culmination of a lot of hard work by Moriah and Kambrea,” Corley said.
#1 Sara Kalyn Croker and Sydney Danks played another close match (6-3, 7-5). Danks hit really powerful ground strokes, but Croker returned almost every ball and ultimately outlasted Danks in the rallies. The final point of the second set lasted more than forty strokes as each player refused to be the one who made an error. Danks ultimately hit a backhand into the net, giving Croker the win that moves the Raider #1 to a 9-2 record.
Croker teamed with Brittany Horner to defeat Danks and Phoebe Agardy 8-3.
#2 Brittany Horner moved up to a 6-3 first set over Phoebe Agardy before dropping the second 2-6 and the tiebreak 8-10. “Brittany came about as close as you can,” Corley said. “Brittany has been in a number of close matches this year, and we just haven’t been able to help her finish. Tonight’s match was one of her best, so we’re hoping that she’s peaking at the right time and can take the next step to victory.”
Kathleen Horner (#3) took a 6-3, 6-3 straight-set victory over Morgan Garner. Horner improved her score over the pair’s previous meeting. The #3 spot seemed to be another match in which both girls were content to stand at the baseline and hit balls back and forth. Horner gained the upper hand by playing more crisp strokes and placing the ball well.
Raider #4 Bailey Rush needed a match tiebreak to defeat Sarah Wittington 5-7, 6-3 (10-6). Rush made a number of errors on both the forehand and backhand sides in the first set but regained her stroke and pushed through long rallies to gain the win.
#5 Ally DeVuono continued the dominant region play, taking a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Emma Campbell. DeVuono, Coach Corley pointed out, is also the first-chair violinist in the LDHS strings program, and, unfortunately, had to miss the year’s first concert to play for the Raiders. “We hate that Ally had to miss being Concert Mistress tonight,” Corley said, “but it shows how well rounded our girls are and how dedicated they are to their tennis. I know Ally wanted to be in both places, but she’s worked really hard to put us in the play-offs, and we needed her tonight.”
In Jayvee action, Reagan Hall and Addy Pitts gained an 8-6 victory over the Eagles.
The Raiders face JL Mann away Tuesday before hosting Hillcrest in the season’s final home match next Thursday.
Raiders Take Second Win Over Region Foe Easley
With a 5-2 win over Easley Tuesday night, Lady Raider Tennis moved one step closer to four straight play-off bids. If the Raiders win in their match at Greenwood this Thursday, they will secure fourth place in the region and ensure a play-off spot with matches left against #2 JL Mann and #3 Hillcrest next week. “First, we have to beat Greenwood,” Coach David Corley said, “but our goal this year is third in the region, and that goal is still within reach; we get one more shot next week at the two teams ahead of us.”
Before the Easley match the Raiders celebrated Senior Night and recognized the achievements of seniors Sara Kalyn Croker, Reagan Hall, and Brittany Horner along with the seniors’ favorite teachers, French teacher Mandy Stallard, Spanish teacher Susan Youmans, and biology teacher Yvonne Simmonds.
Croker began her career with the Raiders in seventh grade and moved up the Raider ladder to become the team’s #1 player. Reagan Hall has also played for the Raiders since seventh grade. Coach Corley praised Hall for sticking with her tennis even though she has never cracked the starting line-up. Brittany Horner, daughter of Raider Coach Scott Horner and sister of the Raiders’ number three, Kathleen Horner, joined the Raiders in eighth grade and now plays #2.
#5 Ally DeVuono got off the courts with the Raiders’ first win – 6-1, 6-1 V. Meriweather Galloway.
#4 Bailey Rush followed quickly with a 6-2, 6-1 V Erin Kaisner. Both DeVuono and Rush had struggled briefly in their first meetings with Easley before securing their wins, so Coach Corley said that he was pleased to see these girls make quick work of their opponents: “We’ve been working on playing our own games and not letting our opponents dictate our pace and shots. Tonight, both Bailey and Ally proved their dominance like we wanted to.”
#3 Kathleen Horner played one of her best recent matches, dropping Krista Day 6-2, 6-2. Horner played a thoughtful match, taking advantage of her knowledge of the court and using different strokes – lobs, volleys – to win with ease.
Senior Sara Kalyn Croker (#1) took a 6-2, 6-1 win over MacKenzie Rasche. Croker won the pair’s first match with patient tennis, staying in long rallies until her opponent made the error. In last night’s game, though, Rasche made fewer errors and placed balls effectively. Croker responded with strong ground strokes and improved first serves to take the win.
Senior Brittany Horner (#2) played one of the night’s most dramatic matches, coming from behind 3-6 to take the second set 6-2 against Ellis Liddle. Horner then moved up in the match tiebreak with match point at 9-7. Horner dropped two points to tie at 9-9 and ultimately lost the tiebreak 9-11.
The #2 doubles team of Moriah Campbell and Kambrea Gosnell brought the night’s high drama to a close in a match tiebreak loss to Erin Kaisner and Leah Young. The Raider pair fell 8-9 (10-2) in the pro-set match. “We’re proud of Moriah and Kambrea,” Coach Corley said. “Easley split their #1 doubles and played their #2 player against our girls, but we hung with her and almost got the win.
The Easley #1 doubles team was forced to forfeit because of injury.
Other Raiders securing wins Tuesday night were Senior Reagan Hall in doubles paired with Addy Pitts and Ella Orcutt in a singles win.
The Raiders play at Greenwood Thursday (10-10-13).
Raiders Hope to Use Loss as Springboard to Must Wins Next Week
Lady Raider Tennis lost 0-7 to region number one TL Hanna last night, but the Raiders’ 16 game wins is a gain of ten over the team’s first meeting with Hanna this year.
“Hanna remains beyond our reach,” Coach David Corley said, but six of the Raider spots picked up at least one game, and experience the team gains by playing quality opponents helps them as they move into matches next week that the Raiders must win in order to hold onto play-off hopes.
Next week the Raiders face Easley and Greenwood, two teams the Raiders defeated in the first half of the season. “We have to beat them again next week, or the matches cancel each other out,” Coach Corley said. To date the Raiders hold the fourth spot in the region behind Hanna, JL Mann, and Hillcrest with wins against Easley, Greenwood, Westside, and Woodmont. “If we hold course,” Corley said, “we’re set up to be facing Hillcrest in our last home match with a chance to knock them out and take over third.”
Tuesday night the Raiders host Easley for Senior Night. Sara Kalyn Croker, Reagan Hall, and Brittany Horner, the Raiders’ only seniors, will honor their favorite teachers and will be honored themselves before the 5:00 p.m. match. The Raiders travel to Greenwood on Thursday.
Results from Hanna
#1 Sara Kalyn Croker (0-6, 1-6) V. Ivey Welborn
#2 Brittany Horner (0-6, 0-6) V. Natalie Ivey
#3 Kathleen Horner (1-6, 2-6) V. Katie Loudermilk
#4 Bailey Rush (1-6, 0-6) V. Corbin Dorsey
#5 Ally DeVuono (3-6, 0-6) V. Lauren Anderson
#1 Doubles Croker and B. Horner (6-8) V. Kristen Reynolds and Bailey Klein
#2 Doubles Moriah Campbell and Kambrea Gosnell (2-6, 0-6) V. Addie Bradford and Abby McGregor
JV Raiders who competed Thursday:
Ella Orcutt (6-8) V. Bri Stephens
Addy Pitts and Maya Ramirez (3-8) V. Victoria Kellogg/Summer Robinson
Raiders Shut Out Westside 7-0; Move to 6-3 in Region
Lady Raider tennis continued to roll Tuesday night, taking the season’s second victory over Westside 7-0.
#4 Bailey Rush got off the courts first, making quick work of Taylor Eskew (6-0, 6-0). #5 Ally DeVuono also scored a shut-out in her victory over Alexis Williams (6-0, 6-0). Both #1 Sara Kalyn Croker and #3 Kathleen Horner dropped only one game, taking 6-0, 6-1 victories over Breunna Hall and Caroline Cain.
#2 Brittany Horner provided the Raiders only drama, dropping the first set 6-7 (5-7) before coming back for a 6-2 second-set victory and a 10-1 match tiebreaker. “Brittany really became frustrated in the first set,” Raider Coach David Corley said. “Sometimes it’s hard to play someone whose game is so different. The Westside girl (Jennifer Young) really placed the ball well and dropped a lot of balls short. It took Brittany a while to figure out how to beat her,” Corley said.
With Westside forfeiting #2 doubles, the Raiders played sisters Brittany and Kathleen Horner at #1 doubles. The doubles team scored an 8-1 pro-set victory to give the Raiders the shut out. Coach Corley said, “We had hoped to let Brittany and Kathleen play together if the opportunity came. They played really well – volleying and playing great angles. Brittany is a senior, but Kathleen is only an eighth grader. I’m glad we got them on the court together.”
Reagan Hall and Addy Pitts gained a jayvee victory for the Raiders.
The Raiders travel to TL Hanna Thursday and return home next Tuesday for Senior Night.
Raiders Sweep Singles, Gain 6-1 Victory Over Woodmont
LDHS Lady Raider Tennis defeated Woodmont 6-1 Thursday night to move to 5-3 in region play. The match featured several highlights for the Raiders, including sophomore Moriah Campbell’s debut win as a singles player and the debut match for freshman doubles team Julianne Turner and Ella Orcutt.
Campbell fell behind 0-4 in the first set and looked to be facing a quick loss when she fought back to tie the set 6-6. Campbell lost the first-set tiebreak 3-7; then, she took the second 6-3, capitalizing on good ground strokes with pace that Woodmont’s Julia Brooks failed to handle. Campbell won the match tiebreak 10-5. Campbell moved up from #2 doubles to play her first singles match for the Raiders because of the illness of Ally DeVuono.
“Moriah fought hard, hustled for balls, and never got down,” Raider Coach David Corley said after the match. “At first I think she was hesitant, but she began playing her own game and going for broke. It was great to see her get the win; she really fought for it.”
In another match highlight, senior Brittany Horner (#2) gained a straight-set victory 6-3, 6-2 over Meredith Kiser. Coach Corley said, “Brittany played fantastic tennis tonight – the kind of tennis we know she can play. Brittany has had a tough season in the region; she just hasn’t seemed to be able to find her ground game, but tonight she regained her stroke.” Corley said that he hopes tonight’s game was the beginning of a turn-around for Horner that could make a huge difference as the Raiders re-play all their region foes.
#3 Kathleen Horner played the Raiders’ closest match, winning a 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 10-6 match over Lexi Hall. “Kathleen played hard,” Coach Corley said. “She was in the entire match, but she had to battle back to win. Kathleen is only an eighth-grader, so with each match she gains experience and toughness that will serve us well in the future.”
Laurens’ # 4 Bailey Rush defeated Toni D’Antonio 6-3, 6-2. Rush had lost a tiebreaker in the Raiders’ first meeting with Woodmont and went into the match determined to show that she was the better player.
At #2 doubles, Julianne Turner and Ella Orcutt gained their first varsity experience in a 4-6, 1-6 loss to Randi Gilbert and Emily Campbell.
#1 singles and doubles added to the Raiders’ win as Sara Kalyn Croker made quick work of Hannah Hancock (6-2, 6-1) and Croker and Brittany Horner took an 8-4 pro-set victory over Hancock and D’Antonio. “Sara Kalyn only has one loss in the region,” Coach Corley pointed out, “and tonight she and Britt played some fantastic points.”
The Raiders also gained victories from all of the jayvee players. Kambrea Gosnell, Addy Pitts, Reagan Hall, Maya Ramirez, and Samantha DeShields all took victories.
The Raiders play Westside Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at the Laurens City Courts.
Lady Raiders Miss Opportunity, Move to 4-3 at Halfway Mark
The LDHS Lady Raider Tennis team traveled to Hillcrest Tuesday night with hopes of coming away with third-place region standing at the mid-point of their season, but the team fell by a score of 2-5, dropping to fourth in the region as they prepare to re-play all the region teams.
The Raiders picked up wins at #1 and #5.
#1 Sara Kalyn Croker dropped her first three games before regaining her composure to secure a 6-3, 6-3 win against Emma Epps. Croker basically outlasted the Hillcrest player, staying at the baseline and waiting for Epps to make the error.
#5 Ally DeVuono came into the match as a question mark as she fought illness, but persevered to top Hannah Owens 6-4, 6-4. Ally moved more slowly than usual and failed to reach some balls she would normally get, but, even after falling behind briefly in each set, battled through to the win.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, unforced errors proved the bane of several of their matches. “We played well for spurts,” Raider Coach David Corley said, “but if you look at our losses, we mostly beat ourselves – double faults, mishit balls, missing easy shots. Hillcrest played more consistently and took advantage when we faltered.”
Other varsity scores:
#2 Brittany Horner versus Katie Tuten 4-6, 1-6
#3 Kathleen Horner versus Christen Crawford 0-6, 3-6
#4 Bailey Rush versus Lauren Kelly 2-6, 6-7 (6-8)
#2 Doubles Moriah Campbell and Kambrea Gosnell versus Courtney Tucker and Madison Carver 2-6, 1-6
#1 Doubles Sara Kalyn Croker and Brittany Horner versus Emma Epps and Katie Tuten 2-6, 3-6
Jayvee Raiders’ Scores:
Julianne Turner 8-2
Addy Pitts 8-2
Maya Ramirez 8-1
Samantha DeShields 5-8
Addy Pitts and Reagan Hall Doubles 1-8
The Raiders travel to Woodmont Thursday to begin the season’s second half, pitting the Raiders against their region opponents for a second time. Coach Corley said, “We’re excited about the second half because we get another shot at Hillcrest in a couple of weeks, but all the teams we beat get another shot at us.”
Croker Gains Raiders’ First, Only Singles Win Against Mann
Raider senior and #1 singles player, Sara Kalyn Croker, took the Raiders’ first ever singles win against JL Mann and only the second win in the Raiders’ short history of play against Mann. The Raiders gained only one doubles win in the teams’ three previous meetings.
Croker mixed the pace of her balls to keep Mann’s Merritt Phillips off balance in the first set (6-4). Phillips, though, overcame her first-set loss to blank Croker in the second (0-6) and draw ahead in the match tiebreak. Croker battled back, drawing to a tie before the pair began trading points, Croker outlasting Phillips in long rallies, and Phillips taking advantage of her dominant placement of balls in the corners. Croker won the tiebreak 13-11 to move to 5-1 in region play. The Raiders moved to 5-2 with the team loss.
“Sara Kalyn’s only loss is to Hanna,” Coach David Corley said. “If she can take Hillcrest on Tuesday, she will have really accomplished something in the region.”
Other high points in the Raider loss included the play of #4 Bailey Rush who battled to 4-6 after opening the first set down 0-3. Rush lost the second 1-6 to Ellen Featherstone. #1 doubles Croker and Brittany Horner also played a strong first (5-7) before dropping the second 1-6.
The Raiders played their strongest match yet against Mann, each girl picking up at least one game win. “This may not seem like a strong outing, but tonight our girls gained some headway against a really tough opponent. Against Mann and Hanna, unfortunately, we measure our progress in games, but we used to measure it in points, so we’re making progress,” Corley said.
#2 Brittany Horner V. Elizabeth Collins (0-6), 1-6)
#3 Kathleen Horner V. Caty Brown (3-6), (0-6)
#5 Ally DeVuono V. Maddy Howard (2-6), 0-6)
#2 Doubles Moriah Campbell/Kambrea Gosnell V. Emma Schafer/Anna Collins (0-6), (2-6)
Lady Raiders Take 5-2 Victory Over Region Foe Greenwood
The LDHS Lady Raider Tennis team battled Greenwood to move to 4-1 in region play.The Raiders picked up wins in all but one singles match and picked up the #1 doubles win to down the Eagles 5-2.
“This gives us wins over Westside, Woodmont, Easley, and Greenwood,” LDHS Coach David Corley said, “and it puts us on a collision path with Hillcrest next Tuesday. I hate to say I was disappointed with a 5-2 win, but we struggled tonight in many of our matches. We walked around like zombies and almost let Greenwood take us. Hillcrest beat them 7-0, and the matches weren’t close. Our girls are right on the cusp of playing great tennis; we won, but I’d love to win without the struggle we had tonight.”
The Raiders split with Greenwood and Hillcrest last year and had set their goal to move out of the middle of the pack by picking off Easley, a loss last year, and by taking both wins against the other middle of the pack teams.
Raider #4 Bailey Rush got off the courts first, taking a 6-1, 6-0 win over Mary Beth Grant. Rush dominated play, following through on every stroke, getting to every ball, and staying focused the entire match – all aspects of her game she has worked to improve. “Tonight, her game came together. She played like we know she is capable of tonight. It was great to see,” Corley said.
#5 Ally DeVuono continued the dominant play she began against Westside – driving Emma Campbell around the court, playing smart by placing balls, and learning her way around the court. DeVuono, who did not start last year, has won her last four region matches at #5 and has “really exceeded” Coach Corley’s expectations. “When we lost Ellen [the Raider senior fell to injury at the beginning of the season], I really thought that Ally and Bailey were going to be playing above themselves, but they’ve both shown me that they were more ready than I knew,” he said.
#1 Sara Kalyn Croker had to come from a three-game deficit to overtake Sydney Danks (7-5, 6-4) before teaming with Brittany Horner to defeat Danks and Morgan Garner 9-8 (7-3). The Raiders’ #1 team fell behind early before drawing to an 8-8 pro-set tie that precipitated the tiebreaker.
#2 Brittany Horner showed grit and determination to push her match against Phoebe Agardy to a match tiebreak. Horner moved up 6-4 in the first before falling 4-6 in the second to send her to the match tiebreak. Horner fell behind early but then rallied for three straight points before losing 6-10. “This is the kind of match we have to win if we’re moving up,” Coach Corley said. “Brittany is a better player than she’s shown in her last few matches. We need her to step up.”
Kathleen Horner (#3) took a 6-4, 6-4 straight-set victory over Morgan Garner. Horner seemed to have lost her zip as she lifted balls back and watched as Garner hit good passing shots. Horner held on to take the win but failed to play with the bounce she has shown in the past.
#2 Doubles Moriah Campbell and Kambrea Gosnell dropped two straight to Sarah Whittington and Hannah Luke (3-6, 2-6).
In Jayvee action, the Raiders won two matches. Julianne Turner and Ella Orcutt took an 8-3 pro-set victory while Reagan Hall and Addy Pitts gained an 8-0 victory over the Eagles.
The Raiders face JL Mann at home Thursday before traveling to Hillcrest next Tuesday.
Raiders Take Milestone Win Over Region Foe
With a 5-2 win over Easley Thursday night, Lady Raider Tennis achieved a goal that had eluded them the three previous seasons. With the win, the Raiders now have the chance to move out of the middle of the region pack to join JL Mann and TL Hanna in the upper tier.
“When I first came on with Raider tennis, we set our sights on moving past Greenwood, then Wren, and then Easley,” Coach David Corley said. Each year the squad moved up a notch in the region, making the play-offs each year but remaining a lower seed.
The first year, the team lost to a dominant number one seed – Mauldin. The next year, they moved up a seed but lost to Mann, the year before Mann moved to the region. Last year, the squad moved back down a seed and lost to Clover in the opening round of the play-offs as Hillcrest, new to the region, split with the Raiders but received the higher seed.
Meanwhile, Easley continued to post victories over the Raiders, placing second to Hanna in the first two years of Corley’s tenure with the Raiders and third behind Hanna and Mann last season.
“Each year we believed that we could compete with Easley, but each year we lost – last year 0-7 both matches. Our goal has always been to get better each year, to move another step, but we’ve been tripping on Easley for three years. This win is a testament to how hard the girls have worked in the off-season. This win comes from going to camp and taking lessons and conditioning and playing even when it’s not tennis season. This win is the one we’ve been wanting,” Corley said.
Senior Sara Kalyn Croker (#1) opened the Raider victory with a 6-0, 6-1 win over MacKenzie Rasche. Croker played patient tennis, staying in long rallies until her opponent made the error.
Senior Brittany Horner (#2) played one of the night’s most dramatic matches, coming from behind to take the first set 6-4, then dropping the second 4-6. Horner then fell behind in the match tiebreaker but rebounded to draw close before falling 5-10.
#3 Kathleen Horner played her closest match of the season, squeaking by in a 6-4, 7-5 win over Madison Galloway.
#4 Bailey Rush played a strong first set (6-0) against Krista Day. The Raider #3 moved Day around the court, placing the ball well and taking advantage of her opponent’s weaknesses, but in the second the Easley player began to run Rush around the court, getting the upper hand briefly before losing the second 6-4.
#5 Ali DeVuono needed a tiebreak to hold the first set 7-6 (7-5) but dominated the second 6-2.
The #2 doubles team of Moriah Campbell and Kambrea Gosnell brought the night’s high drama to a close in a match tiebreak loss to Erin Kaisner and Leah Young. The Raider pair fell behind quickly in the first (3-6) but then won the second 6-3. “The girls really battled tonight,” Corley said. “I was especially pleased with Moriah’s court coverage and her will to win. She wanted this win, and she showed it.” Unfortunately, the pair lost the tiebreak 6-10.
The win moves the Raiders to 3-1 in the region going into two home matches next week. The Raiders face rival Greenwood on Tuesday and Mann on Thursday at the Laurens City Courts.
“Winning tonight felt good,” Corley said, “but Greenwood won’t care what we did this week. We’re still fighting to get out of the middle, and every game requires the girls to focus and move forward.”
Raiders Prevail in Late-Night Test of Wills
Four hours after starting the match, LDHS Lady Raider Tennis gained the four wins necessary to win Tuesday night’s match against Woodmont. The Raider squad took only one of the three match tie breaks they played, but the number one doubles 10-8 tie break win put the Raiders over the top in a hard-fought match.
Senior Sara Kalyn Croker (#1) opened strong against Woodmont’s Hannah Hancock, going up 6-0 in the first before taking the second set 6-3. Croker played consistent ground strokes to keep Campbell on the defensive throughout the match.
Laurens’ # 2, senior Brittany Horner, fell behind early (3-6) to Meredith Kiser before battling early in the second set. “Brittany just couldn’t find her forehand tonight,” Raider Coach David Corley said after the match. “She served as well as I’ve seen her serve, and that’s something we’ve been working on, but unforced errors cost her this match,” Corley said.
Kathleen Horner (#3) gained the Raiders’ most dominant win, taking Lexi Hall 6-1, 6-1. Horner, who was nursing a sore knee, did not show any signs of injury, hitting really solid ground strokes with great depth and power.
#4 Bailey Rush played the Raiders’ closest match, battling back from a 6-4 first to take a 7-5 second set win over Toni D’Antonio. Rush lost the match tie break 7-10. “Bailey is playing fantastic tennis,” Coach Corley said, “but she has to be consistent. As a team, we hit a lot of balls into the net, and we lost two match tie breaks. We have to win the close ones.”
#5 Ally DeVuono continued her season’s winning ways, taking a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Julia Brooks. DeVuono has proved the Raiders’ secret weapon, coming from outside the starting line-up last year to become the Raider player with the most wins this season. Corley pointed out that DeVuono, like a number of Raider players, has worked really hard in the off-season, and that with each match the younger Raiders gain court savvy and confidence. “Ally gets better every point,” Corley said. “She’s learning the game and improving her court movement.”
At #2 doubles Moriah Campbell and Kambrea Gosnell went up 6-3 in the first before losing 4-6 in the second to force another match tie break. The Raiders fell behind early and never regained their composure, losing 5-10 to Randi Gambell and Emily Campbell.
With the match tied 3-3, the senior doubles pair of Sara Kalyn Croker and Brittany Horner gained a 6-1 first-set victory but fell behind 1-2 in the second. “The girls went for every shot,” Coach Corley said, “but sometimes we hit with power when finesse was the key. Again, we hit too many balls in the net and the fence.” The Raiders lost the second 5-7 before holding on to a 10-8 match tie break victory.
Croker played really strong volleys and Horner served really well to keep the Woodmont pair on their heels. Some key shots from Croker came when she simply took advantage of the open court.
The Raiders play Easley Thursday at 5:00 p.m. at Easley High School.
Six Jayvee Raiders also took wins Tuesday night:
Julianne Turner and Ella Orcutt 8-1 V. Tori Bates and Sierra Owens
Addy Pitts 8-6 V. Jennifer O’Reilly
Anna Bottu and Reagan Hall 8-1 V. Daviana Abreu and Azaria Martin
Raiders Blank Westside, Move to 1-1 in Region Play
After a loss in Tuesday’s region opener with Hanna, Lady Raider Tennis bounced back strong to take a 7-0 victory against Westside in Anderson Thursday night.
“It’s amazing the difference from top to bottom of our region [Hanna to Westside],” Coach David Corley said, but against Westside the Raiders took advantage of their opportunity to show the skills that have taken them to the play-offs for three straight years.
“Our girls played well tonight,” Corley said. “Sometimes in the past, we have played our opponents’ games – great tennis with Hanna and weak tennis against the weaker region teams. Tonight, we played our own games, placing the ball well, taking advantage when we could.”
“Starting with Hanna is good for us,” Corley said. “We saw the goal, and now we have an entire season to work toward the goal.”
#1 Sara Kalyn Croker (6-1, 6-1) V. Jennifer Young
#2 Brittany Horner (6-1, 6-1) V. Hannah Gliane
#3 Kathleen Horner (6-0, 6-1) V. Breeaunna Hall
#4 Bailey Rush (6-0, 6-2) V. Caroline Cain
#5 Ally DeVuono (6-1, 6-0) V. Alexis Williams
#1 Doubles Croker and B. Horner (6-0, 6-4) V. Jennifer Young and Hanna Gliane
#2 Doubles Moriah Campbell and Kambrea Gosnell (6-3, 6-0) V. Taylor Eskew and Destini Edmond
JV Raiders who competed Tuesday:
Julianne Turner and Ella Orcutt (8-6) V. Caroline Cain and Breeaunna Hall
Addy Pitts (8-5) V. Alexis Williams
Anna Bottu (8-6) V. Taylor Eskew
The Raiders host region opponent Woodmont Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at the Laurens City Courts.
Raiders Drop Home Opener to Hanna, Show Early Improvement
Having been blanked in all but one spot in last year’s opener with Hanna, Lady Raider Tennis counted its six games as a small victory in last night’s contest with the perennial region champ.
“Hanna has a depth the other teams in the region just don’t have,” Coach David Corley said, but five of the Raider spots picked up at least one game in the Raiders’ region opener, showing a big improvement over the same match last year in which only Ellen Young, lost this season to injury, scored a singles game.
“Our girls have come a long way,” Corley said. “Every one of our girls has shown tremendous improvement – taking lessons, going to camp, working hard in practice – and I think they saw dividends tonight, even in a loss.”
#1 Sara Kalyn Croker (0-6, 1-6) V. Katie Loudermilk
#2 Brittany Horner (2-6, 0-6) V. Natalie Ivey
#3 Kathleen Horner (0-6, 0-6) V. Corbin Dorsey
#4 Bailey Rush (0-6, 0-6) V. Lauren Anderson
#5 Ally DeVuono (0-6, 1-6) V. Anna Rice
#1 Doubles Croker and B. Horner (1-8) V. Anna Rice and Lauren Anderson
#2 Doubles Moriah Campbell and Kambrea Gosnell (0-6, 1-6) V. Addie Bradford and Kristen Reynolds
JV Raiders who competed Tuesday:
Julianne Turner and Ella Orcutt (6-8) V. Claire Counts and Abby McGregor
Reagan Hall and Addy Pitts (0-8) V. Donna Tram/Summer Robinson
Anna Bottu and Maya Ramirez (4-8) V. Bri Stephens and Victoria Kellogg