Bishop England and Waccamaw haven't seen anything of each other for a year now. But the bitter rivalry resumes today at 4:30 p.m. on Wachesaw Plantation's clay courts in Murrells Inlet as the Bishops (12-0) take on Waccamaw (10-3) in the High School League's Class AA boys tennis state quarterfinals.
The Bishops, whose last eight seasons ended with losses against Waccamaw, didn't schedule a regular season match against the Warriors this season.
"There was no upside to playing them in the regular season," said head coach Allen Moore, in his first year as the Bishops' head coach after serving as an assistant for three years.
There has been only a war of words since last May when Waccamaw used an ineligible player to help defeat the Bishops, 5-1, in the state semifinals. A day later, Waccamaw defeated Christ Church for what appeared to be a fourth straight state championship before the team was forced to vacate the title by the High School League's executive committee for playing an ineligible player.
"Just because a group of people made a decision, that doesn't mean it's right," Waccamaw coach James Brown was quoted recently by the Myrtle Beach Sun News. "They made a mistake. We didn't make a mistake. The High School League made a mistake ... I didn't accept that ruling."
The Region 6-AA champion Bishops crushed 5-AA runner-up Barnwell, 7-0, in the first round of the playoffs. Waccamaw had a first-round bye.
"This is a match we knew we had to prepare for," said Bishop England senior Walker Heffron, who plays at No. 1 singles. "We feel like we have one of our best chances to beat them."
Playing in the No. 2 singles spot for Bishop England is junior Steven Weaver. "They (Waccamaw) come out of the block real strong in the top two spots, then they take those same two to No. 1 doubles," Moore said. "But we're steady from top to bottom with six of our top seven players seniors. Everybody's ready to play for us."
Rivers Colyer, Joseph Kennedy and Orlin Sergev play the last three singles spots for the Bishops, while fellow seniors Max Wurthmann and Stephen Griffith will combine for the critical No. 2 doubles match.
Bishop England's hopes were buoyed by the fact Woodberry Forest (Va.), a team the Bishops defeated 5-2, owns a victory over Waccamaw this season at Murrells Inlet. Porter-Gaud also defeated the Warriors on clay, 5-2.
Academic Magnet plays Marion
Region 6-AA runner-up Academic Magnet (10-3), the only local school other than Bishop England still alive in the SCHSL playoffs, will host Marion today in the Class AA state quarterfinals. The winner of that match will advance to Thursday's Lower State final against either Bishop England or Waccamaw.
Junior Nick Butler is the No. 1 player for the Raptors, who are coached by Sharon Williams. Juniors Alex Scott (No. 2), Anthony Edwards (3) and Joseph West (5) make up the rest of the lineup along with freshman No. 4 Hunter Legerton.
Academic Magnet posted a 5-1 win over Williston-Elko in the first round, while Marion upended 7-AA champion Manning, 6-1.
"It's been Waccamaw or BE for six or eight years in this round, so we definitely feel good about our chances (against Marion)," Williams said.