Bishop England girls tennis still team to beat | Sports

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Academic Magnet has moved up to Class AAA after making two straight appearances in the Class AA state finals, but Bishop England’s girls shouldn’t be too worried.

Although the local Class AAA region has become more competitive for the Bishops with the addition of long-time BE rival Waccamaw as well as Georgetown, Manning and Academic Magnet to go with Hanahan, coach Kristin Fleming Arnold’s BE team doesn’t take a back seat to anyone in high school tennis these days.

The Bishops will be seeking their eighth consecutive state championship this fall.

Bishop England is loaded once again as Fleming Arnold looks forward to her 10th season coaching the girls team.

“We have our top five returning: Eleanor Campbell, Lily Woods, Jenna Santa Lucia, Mackenzie Penton and Crista Vroman, and new player Izzy Wods,” Fleming Arnold reports.

The Bishops polished off Mid-Carolina, 5-2, last November to close out 2017 with a 17-2 record and a seventh straight state title.

Fleming Arnold is 13-0 in state finals, including four as a player for the Bishops and two coaching the defending state champion BE boys.

The Bishops have won a state-best 22 girls tennis state titles.

OCA TAKES OVER AA

Oceanside Collegiate Academy is now eligible to compete in the High School League playoffs and should take Academic Magnet’s place in another Class AA state final. With a strong lineup returning from last season, it’s no surprise that OCA coach Phil Whitesell said, “I feel good about our chances.”

Newcomer Philip Simmons, coached by Richard Schultz, should be Oceanside’s toughest opponent in the Region 6-AA race.

Wando is expected to make a run for the Class AAAAA state title after being stopped in last year’s Lower State final in a 4-3 loss to River Bluff. The Warriors started five underclassmen in that loss, led by the Sinclaire sisters, now senior Abby and sophomore Kelsey.

Berkeley should be the top Class AAAA team locally with sophomore standout Abby Cotuna still around. Cotuna was an All-Lowcountry performer as a freshman.

Defending Class AAA SCISA champion Porter-Gaud lost a pair of All-Lowcountry players, freshman sensation Sophie Williams to online schooling and Wofford freshman Alex Hildell, but coach Charlotte Hartsock is excited about her young team. “We have some new young players and we have a good balanced team,” Hartsock said. “Sophie is No. 3 in the country. Not many of those around.”

Ashley Hall now goes one better, with national No. 1 Emma Navarro along with senior standout Rebecca Spratt. Coach Mary Gastley’s team looks like a good choice to reign supreme in SCISA tennis.

NAVARRO U.S. NO. 1

It might have been too much to expect a second straight national championship from 17-year-old Emma Navarro. But as a consolation prize, the Duke-bound Ashley Hall junior is now living the dream of being the No. 1 junior girls player in the nation.

Despite losing in the round of 32 singles in the Girls 18 U.S. National Hard Courts in San Diego, Navarro was still in the running for a fifth-place finish in that tournament after Saturday’s consolation semifinals.

Navarro was rewarded for her girls 18 national clay court singles and doubles titles when the latest USTA national rankings were released on Wednesday. On the same day the new rankings came out, Navarro faced 2017 French Open Junior champion Whitney Osuigwe, currently No. 2 in the world and U.S. junior rankings, in San Diego.

No. 2 seed Osuigwe, a 16-year-old pro, posted a 6-3, 6-4 win over the 17th-seeded Navarro, although Navarro served at 3-4 and 4-4 in both sets but lost service both times after being up 40-15 in the first set and 30-0 in the second set.

If Navarro had survived against Osuigwe, her opponent in the round of 16 would have been doubles partner Chloe Beck. But Osuigwe also eliminated Beck in the round of 16, and then Osuigwe and partner Caty McNally defeated the Navarro/Beck team in the quarterfinals.

Locals Allie Gretkowski and Anna Ross each finished 5-2 in singles in San Diego, Gretkowski losing in the second round of girls 16 and then winning four straight consolation matches, while Ross lost in the third round of girls 18, then won three consolation matches.

Sophie Williams lost in round three girls 16 singles and won a pair of consolation matches.

In Kalmazoo, Mich., in the boys 16 and 18 national hard courts, Jared Pratt made the third round of singles in 18s, while the Coy Simon/Huntley Allen team made it to the fourth round of doubles. Both Simon and Allen made the third round of singles, and Allen won three consolation matches for a 5-2 singles record.

Max Smith advanced to the boys 16 quarterfinals in doubles with Ashe Ray.

LOCAL NOTES

— Charleston’s Diane Barker is in Ulm, Germany, to begin competition in the ITF Seniors World Team Championships for the USTA’s Alice Marble women’s 60 team. The U.S. team has won the Marble Cup the last four years. The World Individual Championships will be held the following week in Ulm, starting next weekend. “Draws will be made today. Play starts tomorrow,” Barker reported on Saturday from Germany.

— The Creekside Court Crushers from Creekside Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant won the state women’s 40 3.5 championship, then went all the way to the final of the Southerns in Mobile, Ala., against a team from North Carolina before falling in the decisive match in a third-set tiebreaker. Crystal Daniel served as captain of the Creekside team.

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. See his latest columns on the French Open and Wimbledon at ubitennis.net



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