Sports: WHS tennis out of state finals
By Charles Swenson
Waccamaw High is out of the state Class AA tennis championship for the first time in three years after falling 5-2 at Bishop England.
There was as much strategy off the court as on it when the Warriors and Bishops met for the Lower State tennis final on Thursday at the LTP Tennis Center in Mount Pleasant. The teams have dominated tennis in the state for the last eight years, and Bishop England had a near lock on titles in the dozen years before Waccamaw became a contender.
In the best-of-seven format, the Warriors were confident of wins at No. 1 and 2 singles from Tolley Rice and Sarah Elliott. They counted on a win from the pair at No. 1 doubles to help them to retain the state title they have held since 2009.
Looking for a fourth point, Waccamaw coach Joan Cribb decided to pair the No. 3 and No. 5 singles players, Casey Altman and Sarah Moran, at No. 2 doubles. "We got off the bus and she said, 'you're playing doubles,'" Altman said.
She and Moran both have key wins at doubles in state competition on their résumés and they were paired successfully at a tournament in California this year. A roster change was something the Warriors kept in their playbook.
Rice easily defeated Liza Arruda, the Bishops' No. 1, 6-1, 6-0. Elliot won her first set 6-3, but trailed 3-4 after a service break in the second. She came back to win 7-5 over Caroline Yodice, a player she has faced, but never beaten on the junior circuit.
Lindsay Costin, Caroline Chapman and Natalie DeCenzo fell at No.s 3, 4 and 5. Bishop England coach Kristin Fleming then shuffled her lineup, putting Arruda at No. 2 doubles with Hunter St. Laurent, who regularly plays No. 2 doubles with Emma Schaafsma. That move drew a protest from Cribb and cellphones flashed as coaches looked for advice on the rules.
After finding that her pairing wasn't allowed, Fleming paired Arruda and Schaafsma at No. 1 doubles aginst Rice and Elliott. No. 3 Hannah Simpson and St. Laurent played Altman and Moran at No. 2. At No. 1, the Warriors took the first set 6-1. They fell behind 2-5 in the second, then lost 4-6. The Bishops took the tiebreaker 10-7. It was the season's first loss for Rice and Elliott.
Altman and Moran were still on the court when the Bishops clinched the match. They fell 6-3, 6-3.