The state title drought for local High School League tennis teams may be over for awhile, thanks to the budding success of a young Bishop England team.
Even if Mauldin now appears to have Wando’s number in Class AAAA — at least for now — the Bishops may already have the players in their program to keep coach Kristin Fleming’s team a serious title contender for several more seasons.
The Bishops’ top three players are sophomores: Liza Arruda, Caroline Yodice and Hannah Simpson. Only Charlie Gaffney is a senior among the team’s top five in singles. The key for the Bishops wasn’t their 7-0 state final victory over Emerald. The critical part of their march to the Class AA state championship was their closer-than 5-2 semifinal win over old nemesis Waccamaw. You might say “it wasn’t over until it was over” — or until they clinched the match at No. 1 doubles in upstaging Waccamaw’s strategy and sweeping doubles with some smart coaching by Fleming.
Waccamaw had beaten BE in five of their last seven playoff meetings prior to this year’s Lower State final. Aware that BE had been victimized by Waccamaw’s strategy several times in the past in boys and girls playoff meetings, Fleming was ready. She opted to play both doubles matches after the completion of singles to keep Waccamaw coach Joan Cribb guessing. “It was something that I had heard Waccamaw would do ... I held out doubles when we exchanged lineups,” Fleming said.
As soon as Fleming saw Waccamaw’s singles lineup without its regular Nos. 3 and 5 players, Fleming knew Waccamaw was up to something again.
Waccamaw’s lineup strategy signalled that Cribb had little confidence in winning at Nos. 3-5 singles against the Bishops’ Simpson, Kelli McManus and Gaffney. The strategy double-backfired on Waccamaw when Fleming split starting singles players Arruda and Simpson as well as regular No. 2 doubles specialists Emma Schaafsma and Hunter St. Laurent.
A return to the top can’t be ruled out for Wando next season, even after losing three of its top seven players. The potential of junior Catherine Martin and freshman Melanie Allen is too good to disregard Wando’s chances at snapping a two-year finals losing streak to Mauldin.
Cup tickets go on sale
Tickets for the 2012 Family Circle Cup go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m., available 24 hours a day at familycirclecup.com, ticketmaster charge-by-phone (800-745-3000) and at Ticketmaster.com. They also will be available at any local Publix location offering Ticketmaster services, as well as in person at the event’s box office located on the second floor of the Family Circle Tennis Center Clubhouse on Daniel Island, and by phone from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at (800) 677-2293 or (843) 856-7900.
Diane Fishburne Barker was selected for the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame. The winner of four world singles titles and nearly 30 national singles titles, she is a former world’s No. 1 in women’s 35-50 age groups. She is ranked 19th in the world in women’s 50.
Brenda Carter has had a terrific fall season. Ranked 11th in the world in super seniors women’s 65 singles, she is fresh from a two-week trip to Turkey where she served as captain and played singles for the USTA’s Kitty Godfree Cup team. She also won the 65-and-over doubles crown in the ITF World Individual Championships playing with No. 2-ranked Heidi Orth of Germany. She has just been named the USTA Southern’s Slew Hester female player of the year.
Steve Zalinski of Daniel Island won the Southern’s Marilyn Sherman Spirit Award.
Family Circle Tennis Center’s fourth annual Holiday Tennis Classic will be held Dec. 2-4. The event, the only Adult Level 3 USTA-sanctioned event in the state in December, will have competition in 2.5-9.0 levels in men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. Registration is available on TennisLink (tournament number 704126711) through Nov. 27.
Wonza Welch’s super senior 3.5 men’s team from Crowfield captured a state title last weekend at Wild Dunes. The Southern Sectional is early next month on Hilton Head Island.
Red-hot local junior Connor Clements is ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 23 in the South in 18-and-under boys.
The Kusmider family has been named the state’s tennis family of the year. Pam Kusmider has been an integral part of the Charleston Schools Initiative while Ted Kusmider works with the inner-city Courting Kids program. The couple’s twin sons, Jake and Luke, are ranked Nos. 6 and 7, respectively, in the state in their junior division, while Ava Kusmider is rated 40th in girls 12.
Veteran Wild Dunes pro Charley Rasheed has been named the state’s adult male player of the year, while Deanna Vroman is the state’s adult female player of the year. They played pivotal roles in helping South Carolina win both the men’s and women’s titles and the overall title in the Southern Senior Cup. Vroman also was a key member of a 5.0 adult league state championship team.
As evidence of the popularity of league tennis, Charleston Tennis Center has 29 adult and senior teams registered this fall.