ROCKINGHAM — Despite losing its regular-season finale to conference rival Scotland 8-1 on Thursday, the Richmond boys tennis team enjoyed a day in which it celebrated its five seniors and their respective careers.
Jimmy Cooley, Jose Jaramillo, Victor Lucero, Ben Morrison and Kristofer Spivey have all “been a mark of consistency” for Richmond head coach Patrick Hope’s first season. They’ve shown up every day and proven with their dedication — through various ups and downs — that they want to help the team win.
“One of the biggest things I’ve said during my first year is that if you come every day, you’re going to get better. And those guys showed that if you stick with it, you will improve,” Hope said. “They’ve endured a lot, especially with the weather and playing in as tough of a conference as this one. For us to be competitive in my first year, I’m truly thankful to them for that.”
Only three of the seniors competed on Senior Day, however, all being defeated in three sets in the singles.
Cooley had a hard-fought match with Scotland junior Hunter Edkins at the No. 2 spot (3-6, 7-6, 3-10), Spivey lost to Scots senior Ryan Phillips in the No. 4 slot (6-3, 1-6, 6-10) and Jaramillo couldn’t quite escape rival senior Sam Poage (5-7, 6-1, 4-10) in the No. 5 singles.
The battle between Cooley and Edkins was the longest match of the day, as both players refused to give in to fatigue. Cooley was on the edge of losing in two sets but won the tiebreaker in the second to push it to a third.
“It was the last time they were going to play Scotland. The last time they were going to play a tennis match in that cage,” Hope said of his message to the seniors prior to Thursday’s finale. “So leave it all out there.”
Richmond’s lone win of the day was courtesy of freshman Bradford Pittman, who took down Scotland’s Nicholas Murphy in the No. 6 singles (6-2, 6-4). It was the third time this season Pittman has been responsible for the team’s only point.
Austin and Miles Harrington, both sophomores, dropped the No. 1 and No. 3 singles, respectively. They would come together to face Edkins and Nate Dubbs, both juniors at Scotland, and were defeated by a score of 5-2. In the No. 2 doubles, Cooley and junior Kevin Campos lost an 8-4 decision. Juniors Mason Bailey and Caleb Brewer fell 7-2 in the No. 3 doubles.
“The wind was really tough today, affecting our serves and shots,” Hope said, “but we had our chances to tighten up the score, especially on courts two, four and five.”
The Raiders (6-9, 6-8 SAC) finish the regular season in fifth place in the Sandhills Athletic Conference standings. They are scheduled to travel to Lumberton on Monday for the first round of conference tournament.
“I felt like we were about where we’d be in the first year,” Hope added. “I thought we beat the teams that we could beat and had a couple that got away from us — like Jack Britt and Lumberton here. Other that that, I’m pretty pleased.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.