Sports: Warriors return to defend state tennis title
There's always an added emphasis when Waccamaw plays Bishop England. With the exception of only a few sports, the Warriors and the Bishops are often matched up in Class AA playoff bracket - especially during the spring - with Lower State titles and state championship aspirations usually on the line.
Throughout the history of the rivalry, many of the outcomes have favored BE. Tennis though has been an exception.
The Waccamaw boys have dominated the action on the court in recent seasons, and that trend continued on Thursday at Stables Park. The defending state title holders, the Warriors were in championship form, shutting out the Bishops 6-0.
With the victory, Waccamaw (14-2) advances to the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center in Columbia on Saturday at 10 a.m. The Warriors will look to repeat as state champions against either Christ Church or Greer Middle College, the teams that met for the Upper State title on Thursday.
"It was a good way for us to go back to the state championship match," WHS coach Valerie Hawkins said. "We probably played our best match of the season. Hopefully, we can carry that into Saturday."
The Warriors put on a display of precision for the home crowd, wrapping up the win before singles play was completed. Only one match, between Waccamaw's top seed Paul Hendrix and his BE counterpart, Lukas Zalesky, went to a tiebreaker. With the match already decided, the Bishops chose to forfeit doubles play, resulting in the 6-0 final.
"We had great support," Hawkins said. "And Bishop England brought a bunch of fans as well. There was good sportsmanship throughout the match. It was an exciting win for us."
Waccamaw seniors Matt Fisher and Alex Czechner set the tone for the evening, winning at No. 3 and No. 5 singles respectively. Fisher downed Jack Roberts 6-2, 6-3 and Czechner dispatched Tristan Fletcher, 6-1, 7-5.
At the top of the lineup, Hendrix got past Zalesky 7-5, 3-6, 10-4 and second seeded Justin Dunn defeated Noah Stieple 6-4, 6-1. Playing in the fourth slot, Joey Hewes bested Jeff Jones 6-1, 6-1.
"BE is always expected to be a tough match," Fisher said. "But we were certainly prepared today."
"I think we're at the top of our game right now," Czechner said. "We're peaking at the right time."
In other Waccamaw sports, the girls soccer team plays at Bishop England at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the Lower State semi-finals. The boys team plays at Bishop England at 1 p.m. Saturday after beating Marion 4-0 on Thursday.
The softball team hosts Dillon at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the Lower State championship game.