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Spartans gut out state semifinal win over Trojans

By Jeff Birchfield • Jun 3, 2019 at 11:00 PM

BRISTOL, Va. — With grit and determination, the Eastside boys tennis team earned its way to the VHSL Class 2 championship match.

The Spartans defeated homestanding John Battle 5-4 in a semifinal matchup on Monday to earn a spot in Saturday’s state championship at Radford University.

Shane Campbell led the way, giving the Spartans a 6-3, 7-5 win at No. 2 singles over Hudson Crabtree. Bolstered by a strong service game, Campbell later teamed with Erik Jones at No. 2 doubles for a 6-1, 6-0 win over Andrew Crowder and Collin Davidson that clinched the match.

“I had the grit to make sure we were going to win,” Campbell said. “We’ve been working toward the state championship all year. I was getting my hard first serves in and they were having a hard time getting them back.”

There was no doubt about that. It was part of the vast improvement in his game noted by Eastside coach Alicia Jones.

“Shane has put some passion into his play this year,” said Coach Jones, whose squad will take on Maggie Walker on Saturday at 9 a.m. for the championship. “He moved up from our fifth seed to second and you can see on the court, he’s got a love and passion for it.”

So do the rest of the Spartans, who followed up the five-hour match with a joyous celebration. The moment was made extra special for Coach Jones because her son, a senior, partnered with Campbell to secure the victory.

“It’s a sweet moment, although a little bittersweet when you think about the season winding down,” she said. “But what better way to finish off things than to make it to the finals.”

Eastside had an early 2-0 lead thanks to a pair of forfeits. Battle’s No. 3 singles player, supposed to face Jordan Rasnick, missed the match for a pre-planned trip, which also awarded the Spartans a forfeit at No. 3 doubles.

Those wins were needed after Eastside lost a couple of tough three-setters at Nos. 4 and 5 singles. Crowder edged Chris Swann 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (4) at No. 4 and Davidson won 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 over Erik Jones at No. 5.

The teams split the other two singles matches. Adam Terry’s return game proved troublesome for Eastside’s John Robert Kilgore in a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 1. However, Eastside’s Luke Kirk made up the lost ground at No. 6, beating Josh Richardson 6-3, 6-1.

Those results sent the match into doubles with the Spartans needing one win. Kilgore and Rasnick won their first set at No. 1 only to see Terry and Crabtree rally for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory.

With a state tournament berth hanging in the balance, Campbell and Jones closed it out.

Their victory on Battle’s home courts served as a measure of revenge for the Spartans after losing to the Trojans in the regional finals.

“The loss we had at the regional final was probably a lesson we needed to learn,” Coach Jones said. “We knew what to expect and what we were looking at when we came onto the court. We knew what we were going to face. As heartbreaking as it was at the moment, it was a benefit.

“There were some tough matches today. Any time you have split sets, you know they’ve worked hard.

“Luke Kirk with his 6 seed win, I told someone earlier you won’t find a stronger 6 seed,” she added. “He’s put effort into his game and has become a true athlete.”


VHSL Class 2 Semifinals

Monday

Eastside 5, John Battle 4

Singles

Adam Terry (JB) def. John Robert Kilgore 6-1, 6-1

Shane Campbell (E) def. Hudson Crabtree 6-3, 7-5

Jordan Rasnick (E) won by fft.

Andrew Crowder (JB) def. Chris Swann 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (4)

Collin Davidson (JB) def. Erik Jones 4-6, 6-3, 7-5

Luke Kirk (E) def. Josh Richardson 6-3, 6-1.

Doubles

Terry/Crabtree (JB) def. Kilgore/Rasnick 4-6, 6-3, 6-1

Campbell/Jones (E) def. Crowder/Davidson 6-1, 6-0

Swann/Kirk (E) won by fft.

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