SOUTHERN PINES — The Richmond Senior boys tennis team headed to Pinecrest looking to get a leg up on the competition in the race for the Southeastern Conference crown.
The Raiders came up just short of achieving their goal, falling to the Patriots 5-4 Thursday afternoon.
The match hinged on the result of two singles contests as both went three sets.
Pinecrest’s Josh Barnes and Richmond’s Andrew Balzer battled at No. 2, while Pinecrest’s Nick Kuzma and Richmond’s John Pittman squared off at No. 4.
Barnes won the first set 6-2 before Balzer rallied to take the second 6-2. The pair went into a third set tiebreaker and Barnes pulled out the victory, winning 10-7.
The Kuzma-Pittman nearly followed the same script. Kuzma cruised to a 6-2 win in the opening set, then Pittman tied it with a 6-3 victory in the second. Kuzma took the final set 10-7 in a tiebreaker.
“If we flip one of those around, we win,” Richmond coach Mike James said. “It was close. Our kids tried to fight through it.”
James added his team is looking forward to playing the Patriots again, this time at home on April 1.
Colt Auman and Brandon Ingram were the only winners in singles for the Raiders (3-1, 2-1). Auman defeated Jacob Johnson 6-1, 6-0. Ingram stopped Don Campbell 6-2, 7-5.
In the other singles contests, Pinecrest’s Zack Smith downed Ryan Watkins 6-4, 6-3 and Rok Meachum knocked off Zach Leberth 6-4, 6-1.
In doubles, Richmond won two of the three matches. Balzer and Ingram downed Barnes and Johnson 8-5. Auman and Pittman edged Campbell and Kuzma 9-7. Pinecrest’s Meachum and Smith defeated Watkins and Leberth 8-3.
Richmond will return to action 4 p.m. Monday when it plays host to SEC foe Purnell Swett. The match was originally scheduled for March 6 but was postponed because of weather.
Track results incomplete
PEMBROKE — Richmond Senior girls track coach Reggie Miller said the results from Thursday’s Southeastern Conference opening three-team meet with Pinecrest and Purnell Swett were not finalized.
Miller believes the Richmond boys team won its side of the meet. He added the results of the girls meet will be determined by the final two competitions — the 4x400-meter relay and the 3,200 meter race.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.