Young BE tennis squad heads into season looking for ninth consecutive state championship
Eight is enough - unless you are a member of the 2019 Bishop England High School girls’ tennis team.
The Bishops, under the direction of BE alum Kristen Fleming Arnold, claimed their eighth consecutive state championship last fall to put an exclamation point on one of the most impressive tennis seasons in the history of South Carolina prep sports.
The Bishops finished with a 23-0 record after pounding a previously undefeated Chapman team 7-0 in the Class AAA state championship, which was contested at the Cayce Tennis Center in Lexington. The Bishops lost only 11 games in the five singles and two doubles matches against Chapman.
It’s a tough act to follow, but the youthful but experienced Bishops are up for the challenge as the program bids for its 24th state title overall. A 24th title would put the Bishops in the top five nationally all-time for overall state titles, according to the National Federation of High School Sports’ record book.
“There is always pressure on the girls to perform as we are going for our ninth consecutive state championship,” Fleming Arnold said. “As I always say at the beginning of every season, we can’t expect to win. We have to earn it, work for it and fight for it. The girls are great about putting in additional court time in the offseason season which helps us get ready for the season.”
The team is young, but talented. Junior Lily Woods is the No. 1 singles players while classmate Jenna Santa Lucia holds down No. 2. The players played at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, last season.
Sophomore Elle Bredmann is the No. 3 singles player, while classmate Mackenzie Penton is the No. 4 player.
Rounding out the Nos. 5-7 positions are seventh-grader Bella Nava, freshman Sydney Severence and junior Grace Carruthers.
“We have a great team with great depth,” said Fleming Arnold, who also played for BE tennis teams that won state titles in the early 1990s. “We also are a young team with newcomers Elle, Bella, Sydney and Grace.
“We are looking forward to a great season,” the coach added. “We open with Hanahan and play Ashley Hall and then Waccamaw.”
Lower State foes Waccamaw and Academic Magnet should provide the biggest challenge in the Bishops’ march to another state title match. But the younger players need time to develop their skills.
“(Winning a) state championship is the goal of the season but we can’t focus on that from the beginning,” Fleming Arnold said. “We need to focus on being a team, playing hard and positioning ourselves for playoffs. We are hosting the BE Fall Invitational Sept. 20-22 where 16 teams from across the state will be competing. It’s great way for us to get ready for season and playoffs.”
The Class AAA state playoffs commence Oct. 23, with Upper and Lower State championships set for Nov. 4. The team state championship is set for noon on Nov. 9. Singles championships are slated for Nov. 11-12.