High School Sports

‘A moment of a lifetime’: Myrtle Beach boys tennis wins state title for late coach

Watch: Myrtle Beach boys tennis win Class 4A title

Myrtle Beach defeated AC Flora to win the Class 4A boys tennis championship on May 11, 2019.
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Myrtle Beach defeated AC Flora to win the Class 4A boys tennis championship on May 11, 2019.

Less than two weeks ago, the Myrtle Beach boy’s tennis team suffered a loss more important than what happens on the court.

Rivers Lynch, the longtime fixture at the school who had returned to coach the boys team in 2016, died expectedly at the age of 72. In the hours after his death, the Seahawks – who included grandsons Rivers Cahill and John Edward Cahill – vowed to win the program’s first state championship since Lynch led them to three straight titles from 2007-2009, his last year with the program before returning in 2016.

They completed that dream with a dominating 6-0 victory over A.C. Flora on Saturday morning at the Cayce Tennis Center.

“Truthfully, on that Sunday after coach Lynch passed, we knew we had a job to do and we would do it,” interim coach Jeremy Finger said. “I wouldn’t have cared how we capped it off, just as long as we did it. It’s been an emotional roller-coaster the last two weeks with a legend passing. What didn’t pass is what he taught the boys, these kids and this community. For us to honor that by following through with his dream is really a moment of a lifetime.”

Lynch is a legend among the high school ranks. He became a member of the South Carolina Athletics Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007. He won 11 state championships in tennis at Myrtle Beach. The girls program won eight in the 1990s that included six straight from 1991-1996 and two more in 1998 and 1999. He added the three boys titles from 2007-2009, when he stepped down.

The emotions were far and wide from the large contingent of Myrtle Beach fans that made the nearly three-hour drive from the coast. Many of the several hundred in attendance wore shirts that read #LLCOACH, “All it takes is All You’ve Got!”

They gave it all they had for certain. The Seahawks didn’t drop a set in the sweep of the six matches that took just a little over an hour for them to clinch the title.

One of Lynch’s grandsons, senior John Edward Cahill, playing at No. 3 singles, clinched the match with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Rick Hewitt.

“This is everything,” Cahill said. “It was his goal before he passed. The week before we studied, studied teams and how to be a better team all together. A week before he passed away, he talked to us on how to become a family. I think we really listened very hard that week. Then all the tragedy we went through that Sunday, we really took that word throughout the entire playoffs. We became a family.”

By the time the teams assembled on the court for the trophy presentation, Teresa Lynch, River’s wife of 50 years, was there to take part of the celebration. When she touched the championship trophy, it put a bit of closure on an emotional two-week journey.

“These boys finished a dream Rivers talked about in February,” Teresa Lynch said. “He said he was going to coach the team again and he felt like these boys really had the potential to be one of his state champions. They have finished his dream. I am grateful. Everyone has been so supportive.”

Other winners included River Cahill, Josh Wallen, Robert Warstler, Dever Smith and doubles team of W.T. Vaught and Bailey Morrow.

Singles: Rivers Cahill d. Michael Davis 6-3, 7-5; Josh Wallen d. Alex Echols 6-2, 6-1; John Edward Cahill d. Rick Hewitt 6-1, 6-2; Robert Warstler d. William Overdyke 6-1, 6-0; Dever Smith d. Calhoun McCullough 6-2, 6-1. Doubles: W.T. Vaught-Bailey Morrow d. Lucas Jeffords/Myers Murphy 6-0, 6-0.