Dayton takes his game, St. James tennis to new heights

For The Sun NewsJune 8, 2014 

Jeffery Dayton Toast Tennis

St. James’ Jeffery Dayton is the Toast of the Coast Boys Tennis Player of the Year.

BY CHARLES SLATE — cslate@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

  • The team

    Boys Tennis Player Of The Year

    Jeffrey Dayton

    School | St. James

    Class | Sophomore

    Notable | Four-time All-Region VII-AAA selection was also named to the Class AAA All-State team for the second consecutive year after winning a pair of matches in the state singles tournament.

    Britton Bellamy

    School | Socastee

    Class | Freshman

    Notable | All-State and all-region selection advanced to third round of state singles tournament and was 13-3 overall on the season, including an 8-3 mark at No. 1 singles.

    Justin Dunn

    School | Waccamaw

    Class | Junior

    Notable | Finished 10-6 while splitting time between No. 1 and No. 2 singles for a Warriors team that won the Class AA team title. Finished sixth in the state individual tournament.

    Coste Duvall

    School | Socastee

    Class | Senior

    Notable | Was 15-1 playing primarily No. 2 singles for Socastee team that advanced to the Lower State semifinals. Lost only two matches in two seasons with the Braves.

    Paul Hendrix

    School | Waccamaw

    Class | Freshman

    Notable | Two-time Class AA/A Individual State tournament champion was undefeated in singles and doubles matches, including a pair of wins in the team state tournament finals.

    Jacob Moore

    School | Myrtle Beach

    Class | Senior

    Notable | Finished final season 9-3 and was a combined 18-5 in the last two years. Helped Myrtle Beach to the Class AAA Lower State semifinals in the team tournament.

    Woodrow Tudor/Parker Brinson

    School | Waccamaw

    Class | Seniors

    Notable | Tandem went 6-0, including a victory in the deciding match at the Class AA state team championship victory over Christ Church. Each player was also 5-3 in singles matches, which all took place in the first half of the season.

As good as his serve or return game is, Jeffrey Dayton admits keeping himself motivated may be his best trait.

The St. James sophomore for the most part cruised through another regular season. All told, he has won 30 straight Region VII-AAA matches, a span that stretches back to March 13, 2012.

“When you’re winning, it’s easy to let up,” said Dayton, the two-time Toast of the Coast Boys Tennis Player of the Year. “You have to play the same way and keep up the intensity level.”

That may be easier said that done.

Outside of the ultra-competitive Class AAAA/AAA singles tournament – where Dayton has still won at least two matches in three of the last four seasons – he has made relatively quick work of most of his high school opponents.

This season alone, he won approximately half of his matches 6-0, 6-0. Out of the 154 total games he charted, he won 144 of them.

He was a lock for the Region VII-AAA Player of the Year honors again. And he earned a spot on the Class AAA All-State squad for the second consecutive season.

Dayton played more than six outside tournaments on weekends over the course of the high school season. But outside of missing two of the Sharks’ matches due to an injury, he keeps coming back.

That’s not always the norm for players of Dayton’s ability, in tennis or other sports.

“I’ve lost players due to club teams,” St. James coach Lee Cannon said. “I know it can happen at any moment. … I know it’s a special moment of time you’ll have him. I just know how much he enjoys it. He’s doing the same thing I am: He’s enjoying it.”

The winning has certainly helped him and his team.

The Sharks took advantage of an expanded playoff field by qualifying for the Class AAA team postseason for the first time in school history before losing 5-1 to Hilton Head.

That one win belonged to Dayton.

Despite the high number of wins, Cannon said his star player has plenty to prove. Further success in the individual tournament is ultimately the goal.

“He is not finished,” Cannon said. “As big of a success as you can be regionally, when you go to a state tournament, it’s another level. There’s room to improve.”

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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