BE girls’ tennis team looks to serve up another winning season
As usual, the Bishop England girls’ tennis team opens the season against rival Ashley Hall. The teams face off on Friday in a match that will feature two of the Lowcountry’s best teams.
At the end of the season, it will be unusual if the Bishops don’t hoist the state championship trophy. After all, the Bishops have won the state title seven straight years, and all five of the top singles players return in 2018.
The Bishops ended last year’s campaign with a 5-2 victory over Mid-Carolina in the state championship match at the Cayce Tennis Center. It was the Bishops’ 22nd tennis title overall, which is tops in state history.
Coach Kristen Fleming Arnold has a lot to be excited about as she begins her 10th season as girls’ coach. She has talent galore and a place for her team to call home.
The Bishops will play their home matches at the school’s new tennis complex: The Michael L. Runey III Tennis Center, home of the Monsignor John L. Manning Tennis Courts. The Bishops’ first home game is Sept. 6 against Waccamaw.
“It makes life a lot easier,” Fleming Arnold said of the new complex. “We’re out of school at 2:50 and on the court at 3:10. It gives us a good two hours of practice. There’s no running around. It’s nice to have friends and family at home matches. It’s nice to have a place you can call home.”
Fleming knows what life is like without a home court. She played on four state championship teams at BE in the 1990s when the school was located on Calhoun Street. The team practiced at Farmfield complex in West Ashley.
She has four state titles as a player, seven as the girls’ coach and two as the boys’ coach.
That number could increase this fall with the returning talent.
Senior Eleanor Campbell begins as the No. 1 singles player while sophomore Lilly Woods is the No. 2 player. Sophomore Jenna Santa Lucia, freshman MacKenzie Penton and senior Crista Vroman are Nos. 3-5, respectively.
The top newcomer is seventh-grader Izzy Wood. She attends Christ Our King School and is Lilly Woods’ sister.
“Izzy is a multi-sport athlete like her sister,” Fleming Arnold said. “She loves the game and is a great competitor.”
The Bishops open with Ashley Hall on Friday and then battle East Cooper rival Wando next week. Then it’s time for region play. The league is revamped this year with the addition of Waccamaw and Academic Magnet.
“Our first goal is to finish No. 1 in the region to get home-court advantage,” Fleming Arnold said. “In terms of the Lower State, Waccamaw and Academic Magnet appear to be the biggest challengers.”
Fleming Arnold said the team has a good work ethic and the players improve their games year round.
“They are ready to carry on the tradition,” she said. “They know winning a state championship is not easy. Winning a state championship is just not going to happen by walking out on the court. You have to work for it.”