BEHS boys' tennis team gearing up for new season
The Bishop England boys’ tennis team is returning its top four players from last year, when the Bishops reached the Class AAA Lower State championship.
Coach Kristen Fleming Arnold expects the talented group to be ready when the 2018 season commences.
“We have a strong, deeper team than in the years past,” said Fleming Arnold. “All the boys all have worked very hard in the off season. We are ready.”
Senior Jared Pratt holds down the No. 1 singles position while classmate Lleyton Dacuba is the No. 2 player. Sophomore Zachary Dacuba and Harrison Est are battling for the No. 3 singles spot, while freshman Lukas Gosselin is the No. 5 singles player.
Pratt is primed for a big season. The USTA recently named Pratt as the No. 1 boys junior tennis player in the U.S.
The Bishops had another solid year in 2017, reaching the playoffs as a No. 2 seed. The Bishops received a first-round bye and then topped Brookland-Cayce and Bluffton before falling to eventual state champ Hanahan, a team powerful enough to blank Clinton, 6-0, for all the Class AAA marbles.
The coach predicts that Hanahan and Waccamaw will be the big challenges for the Bishops, who are seeking their first state title since 2015.
Fleming Arnold focuses on the present and not the playoffs as the team preps for its season opener against Wando on Feb. 20.
“We don’t focus on winning the state championship, we focus on the week and the team matches we have,” Fleming Arnold said. “We focus on the season. Each week gets the team ready and stronger for playoffs.”
Still, the Bishops always seem to be in the mix and conversation when it comes time to discuss the top programs in the state. What will it take for the Bishops to wrestle the title from Hanahan?
“It will take hard work, team work and dedication,” Fleming Arnold said. “The boys all have been working hard in the off season to accomplish this goal. We have tough match schedule to be ready for playoffs.”
The Bishops might change home venues this spring. They will play their home matches at Snee Farm in the early part of the season, but could end up at the new tennis complex on its campus: the Michael J. Runey Tennis Center, home of the Monsignor John L. Manning Tennis Courts.
“The courts should be ready middle to late March,” Fleming Arnold said. “We are ready to have courts on campus. Our courts will be hard so we continue to practice and work with the hard courts on Snee Farm.”
Fleming Arnold is a graduate of Bishop England. She played on four state championship teams back in the day. Fleming Arnold, who also coaches the girls’ team in the fall, has logged another seven state titles as a coach of the girls’ team.