Bishop England girls claim fifth straight state tennis title

(Joleen Deames/Provided)Bishop England tennis team won the state title on Saturday.

Only the final score was close. Bishop England (15-3) wrapped up its fifth straight girls tennis Class AA state championship by winning the top four singles positions, then played out the rest of the state final for a 4-3 win over Christ Church (15-1) on Saturday morning at Cayce Tennis Center.

It was the Bishops’ state-best 20th state title, and coach Kristin Fleming Arnold’s ninth (including four as a player). Senior Gabrielle Dacuba matched her coach with four state titles while posting a solid 7-5, 6-3 win over Christ Church’s Nila Veerabagu at No. 3.

“Gabrielle is real happy. Going out with four state titles is a huge achievement,” Fleming Arnold said.

Juniors Jenna Vroman and Camryn Deames, and Dacuba lifted their combined state championship total to nine, and were joined by freshman Emily Elliott in sweeping Nos. 1-4 singles, respectively.

The pro-set doubles were meaningless for the state champions. Christ Church had entered the final unbeaten with several notable wins against higher level competition, plus titles in two tournaments.

“This was a good win for us. We have a good group of girls. They came to play. We knew Christ Church was a great team, so we came prepared,” Fleming Arnold said.

“We (Vroman, Deames and Dacuba) won the first three points last year and again this year,” Fleming Arnold added, calling attention to similar success a year earlier in another 4-3 win over Christ Church in the state final.

Veteran Christ Church coach Sherry Adams probably is happy to know she won’t have to face Bishop England again next year since the Bishops are scheduled to move up to Class AAA for the 2015-16 school year.

“I was prepared for a tight match, but I’m not surprised we won decisively,” said Deames, who posted a 6-4, 6-2 win over Day Nuckolls.

Vroman had her rocket forehand grooved for the final, and scored a 6-0, 6-2 win over Christ Church’s Lauren Allen at No. 1. “My forehand was on today. This is so awesome, so exciting,” Vroman said. “I’ve got two (titles) in the boat. Hopefully, I’ll get another one next year.”

The day didn’t stop there. Elliott clinched the title in the tradition of Dacuba in 2014 by saving one match point in a third-set tiebreaker to hold on for a 6-2, 6-7, 12-10 win over Anna Thompson.

“The other girl missed a forehand and everyone ran on the court,” was the way Elliott described her first state title moment in her initial year on the team.

The title belonged to the Bishops at that point. BE freshman Crista Vroman kept playing, but fell in a third-set tiebreaker at No. 5 singles.

BISHOP ENGLAND 4, CHRIST CHURCH 3

SINGLES: J. Vroman (BE) def. Allen, 6-0, 6-2; Deames (BE) def. Nuckolls, 6-4, 6-2; Dacuba (BE) def. Veerabagu, 7-5, 6-3; Elliott (BE) def. Thompson, 6-2, 6-7, 12-10; Philpot (CC) def. C. Vroman, 2-6, 6-2, 10-7.

DOUBLES: Allen/Thompson (CC) def. Woods/Ranson, 8-4; Pieper/Taylor (CC) def. Lewis/Blom, 8-4.

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