BE girls' tennis team eyes seventh consecutive state title
The preseason talk surrounding the Bishop England High School girls’ tennis team this fall will include the numbers 7 and 11.
Those numbers are usually associated with luck, but in Bishop England’s case, the numbers represent talent, hard work, determination and, perhaps, a pinch of luck.
The Bishops are aiming for their seventh consecutive state title, while coach Kristen Fleming-Arnold could be part of 11 girls’ state titles at the school, seven as a coach and four as a former player for the kelly green and white and tennis machine. Fleming Arnold graduated from BE in 1993. She also coaches the boys’ team and has one state title in that category.
The Bishops were flawless last year, going undefeated in a memorable season that culminated with a 7-0 victory over Mid-Carolina in a match played at the Cayce Tennis Center. The whitewash gave the Bishop girls’ their 21st state title overall, which is a state record. The 21 titles place the Bishops at the No. 10 spot on the all-time state championships list in the country, according to the National Federation of High Schools Record Book.
“It was a great accomplishment,” Fleming Arnold said of her team’s 18-0 record. “It’s something you don’t set out to do. But as the season progressed, it was something we knew was attainable with a lot of hard work.”
High School and college coaches of dynastic programs will tell you every season is different, every team is unique and that is certainly the case on Daniel Island as the top three singles players departed. No. 1 singles player Jenna Vroman matriculated to Wofford, while No. 2 Camryn Deames attends the Air Force Academy. Emily Elliott, the No. 3 singles player, is being home schooled.
“In terms of a new season, we’re a young team, a determined team,” Fleming Arnold said. “Everyone is excited to keep the streak going. They know it’s going to take a lot of hard work and determination.”
The Bishops held tryouts on Monday and hold their first scrimmage on Aug. 15 against SCISA power Porter-Gaud. The Bishops open the regular season on Aug. 30 against Ashley Hall at Farmfield.
Two players are battling for the No. 1 singles position this fall: eighth-grader Lily Woods and junior Eleanor Campbell, who played at the Nos. 4 and 5 singles positions last season. Also in the mix is returning senior Drew Bobey.
“It’s a big difference when you move up,” Fleming Arnold said. “There’s a lot more pressure on them. They have to work hard and adjust. It’s not an easy role to step into.”
Jenna Santa Lucia is penciled in as the No. 3 singles player. She transferred in from Pittsburgh.
“She moved in this week and I met her for the first time on Monday,” Fleming Arnold said. “From what I see, she is willing and ready to work hard.”
McKenzie Penton and Crista Vroman are battling for the other two singles spots. Crista Vroman is Jenna’s younger sister.
Fleming Arnold said another state title is possible.
“It’s definitely something attainable,” she said. “It’s something we can’t take for granted.”