Generals command Devils, secure first win
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Mar 21, 2013, 13:18
Hopewell’s Shea O’Connell (right) attempts a backhand return during a Central District match against Dinwiddie on Tuesday at Point of Rocks Park in Chester. The visiting Generals prevailed 7-2 (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
CHESTER — Dinwiddie High School boys tennis standouts Aidan Kaluau and Tyler Kemp are in the early stages of their third varsity season, and Generals coach Otis Lilley said the juniors paid their dues as underclassmen.
Now they’re hoping for a sizable return on their investment. The first installment arrived on Tuesday.
Buoyed by flawless performances from its top two players, Dinwiddie sauntered to a 7-2 road victory over Hopewell amid blustery conditions at Point of Rocks Park in Chester.
Kaluau and Kemp both blanked their opponents 8-0 in singles play and joined forces to win their doubles matchup by the same margin. “They’re getting better and stronger every day,” Lilley said.
Dinwiddie junior Aidan Kaluau returns a serve during a singles match against Hopewell senior Paul Thomas on Tuesday (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
Justin Dailey, Devon Evans and Bryan Long also won singles matches for Dinwiddie while James Lloyd accounted for Hopewell’s only individual triumph. Playing in the No. 3 slot, Lloyd also teamed up with Paris Simmons to notch a victory in doubles play.
“We made some mistakes,” said first-year Hopewell coach Sylvia Robinson. “It was very challenging for my boys to play a team like Dinwiddie, but overall I thought the matches went well.”
The win was the first of the young campaign for Dinwiddie, which opened with losses to Colonial Heights and Matoaca. Those results, Lilley said, are not indicative of the junior-laden Generals’ potential.
“We actually have a pretty good team,” Lilley said. “We just had a little bit of trouble getting it together. We’re not rebuilding, but there are plenty of teams out there that are.”
Hopewell, which fell to 1-2 with the setback, fits into that category. The Blue Devils took the court with a new No. 1 in senior Paul Thomas, and the two-year varsity player admitted he was a little nervous before facing the more experienced Kaluau.
“I just want to improve my game,” Thomas said. “And become a better opponent for these wonderful players out here.”
There will be no shortage of wonderful opponents in Thomas’ near future. The Central District is decidedly polarized, with a handful of perennial contenders presiding over a group of also-rans.
Lilley, whose teams typically settle somewhere in the middle of the district standings, said his aim is to finish above .500 this season. Next year looks even brighter as almost all of his current players will return as seniors.
“Next year will probably be a good year,” Lilley said. “But the following year will probably be pretty tough.”
As for the Blue Devils, Robinson said her long-term goal is to hoist the oft-overlooked program into the upper echelons of the eight-team league. For now, however, the upstart group will be refocusing on the fundamentals.
“I do think the future is bright for Hopewell tennis,” Robinson said. “There’s going to be a learning curve, and we have to work on some of the basics. But once they get the true fundamentals of tennis down, I think they’ll be OK.”
DINWIDDIE 7, HOPEWELL 2
Singles: Kaluau (D) d. Thomas 8-0, Kemp (D) d. O’Connell 8-0, Lloyd (H) d. Hayes 8-6, Dailey (D) d. Amos 8-0, Evans (D) d. Krise 8-0, Long (D) d. Bryant 8-1.
Doubles: Kaluau-Kemp (D) d. Thomas-O’Connell 8-0, Lloyd-Simmons (H) d. Brinkman-Davis 8-5, Robert-Beville (D) d. Morrison-Goode 8-3.
Records: Dinwiddie 1-2, Hopewell 1-2.