Philip Simmons boys' tennis team wins first state team title in school's history
The Bishop England High School boys’ tennis team continued its long history of success in state championship play, winning the Class AAA state title with a 6-1 decision over Clinton on Saturday. Philip Simmons High School, meanwhile, made history. The Iron Horses won the first team championship in the school’s brief existence with a 6-0 victory over St. Joseph’s in the Class AA-A state championship. Both matches were contested at the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center.
When veteran coach Richard Schulz talked about his team’s chances of winning a state title at the beginning of the season, it sounded more like a promise than a prediction.
“We will be better than advertised,” Shulz said Saturday - and the Iron Horses backed up their coach’s words with the victory over St. Joseph to conclude the season with a state title and a 13-3 record.
This season, the Iron Horses posted victories over Class AAA state champ Bishop England, Class AAAAA state finalist Wando and Class AAAA state finalist A.C. Flora.
“I try to under promise and have the team over perform,” Schulz said. “We’re the best team in the state. We’re probably the best team in the South. I know that sounds terribly cocky, but we are the best.”
The Iron Horses had to work hard against the Upstate champions, who entered the match with a perfect season on the line. But Philip Simmons had more than enough talent and grit to knock off the Knights. So if the Iron Horses are so good, how did they manage to lose three matches this season? That’s simple. There were times when Schulz left his Nos. 1-6 singles players at home to give his younger players some experience in actual matches. Saturday, all 16 players were there to either play or offer support.
“Before the match, we gathered and I told them they might win an individual championship next week or next month,” Schulz said. “But what they will remember 50 years from now is winning the first state title in Philip Simmons history.”
The Iron Horses’ Coy Simon, ranked No 1 in the South in 18-U, dropped his first set of the year but held on win in No. 1 singles. Max Smith, ranked No. 1 in the South in 16-U, won in straight sets in No. 2 singles as did Mitchell Deames in No. 3 singles.
“Deames is the most improved player in the state,” Schulz said. “He’s moved from No. 9 to No. 5 to No. 4 in 16-U. He would be the No. 1 singles player on any other team.”
Carson Baker and Jake Smith also won in singles, while J.D. Sutterlin and Garrett Booker won in doubles.
Bishop England won the state championship by beating Clinton for the second straight year. Last year, the Bishop posted an 8-0 decision over the Red Devils to cap a perfect season.
Despite a strong effort, the Bishops’ No. 1 singles player, Zach Dacuba, was unable to obtain a win in his match, but the rest of the team made a statement as the Bishops won their third state title during coach Kristin Fleming Arnold’s six-year tenure as boys’ coach. Clinton’s Ike Waldron topped Dacuba, 7-5, 7-6. But that was all Clinton had to celebrate. Hector Romero blasted Conner Donley, 6-1, 6-0; Harrison Estey topped Anders Orr, 6-0, 6-1; Lukas Gosselin breezed past Hayden Miner, 6-0, 6-1 and Rafe Flathman defeated Brandon Campbell, 6-3, 6-0. The Bishop’s doubles team of Jose Rentas and Liam French beat their foes 6-0, 6-0.