Lady Bishops capture seventh straight state tennis title
The Battling Bishops girls’ team faced a tough foe in Mid-Carolina on Saturday in the High School League’s state championship. But the Bishops were more than up for the task. They posted a 5-2 victory at the Cayce Tennis Center to gain their seventh straight state title and a state best 22nd title overall.
“It’s obviously something quite exciting to carry on that legacy, that tradition,” BE coach Kristen Arnold Fleming said. “We lost our top three players from last year, so there were some big shoes to fill. The girls stepped up and played to their ability.”
The Bishops rarely miss a beat, and that should continue next year as all five of the Bishops’ top singles players return for 2018. The only graduation losses will involve the doubles players Drew Bobey and Grace Michel.
Fleming Arnold has helped build that tradition. She is in her ninth year as coach at her alma mater and has led the girls to seven state titles. She also coaches the boys’ team and has one state title to her credit. She also played on four state championship teams while a student at BE in the 1990s.
Mid-Carolina won in No. 1 singles play as Elise Mills defeated Lily Woods in straight sets. Mills is a senior who will play tennis at the University of South Carolina while Woods is only a freshman.
Mills was also part of the No. 1 doubles team that was too much for the Bishops.
But the rest of the day belonged to Bishop England. Junior Eleanor Campbell topped Caroline Matney in No. 2 singles while Jenna Santa Lucia, Crista Vroman and MacKenzie Penton all posted impressive triumphs.
Campbell is a junior, Santa Lucia is a freshman, Vroman is a junior and Penton is in the eighth grade.
How does Fleming Arnold ease the pressures of the state winning streak?
“Every week, whether it’s practice or a match, we try to put them into a position to win their matches,” she said. “In the end, I try to keep it fun, but play to win. I try to keep them from seeing the grand picture and to take it one match at a time. I try to keep them from getting overwhelmed.”
The players may change year after year, but the goal remains the same for the kelly green and white.
“The girls know the goal is the same every year,” Fleming Arnold said. “We just work hard in the offseason and when it comes time to meet again in the summer, we will be stronger and better.”
Three Bishops will compete in the individual state championships. They include Woods, Campbell and Santa Lucia.