Veteran Waccamaw coach James Brown pulled another trick out of his hat in Thursday’s Class AA boys tennis Lower State final as the perennial power Warriors (15-3) eliminated Bishop England (7-1) from the state playoffs for the 10th consecutive year, this time 4-1.

Although the latest renewal of this heated rivalry had been scheduled to be played at Mount Pleasant’s LTP Tennis, the match was switched to Wachesaw Plantation at Murrells Inlet due to a ruling by the S.C. High School League over what it decided was a rules infraction during the regular season by the Bishops.

But the Bishops made the trip, played on clay for the first time this season and made the match closer than the score might indicate. The Bishops’ Nos. 3 and 5 singles players, seniors Matthew Csernica and Rowe Hicks, both pushed their opponents to 10-6 in third-set match tiebreakers before going down to defeat. Otherwise, the Bishops might have owned a 3-2 lead after singles.

Noah Stiepel posted a 6-4, 6-4 win over Robert Jones at No. 4 for the Bishops’ only win as Waccamaw wrapped up a spot in the state final without having to play doubles.

“We had to go up there because of a rules infraction in our lineup at Woodland,” first-year BE coach Frank DiNardo said. “It was either we go to Waccamaw or they make us default the match. I wasn’t going to let our team down.”

As a result of the ruling by the SCHSL on Wednesday, Bishop England lost the top seeding in the Lower State to Waccamaw. The ruling came after a protest by Waccamaw to the SCHSL.

It all came as a result of Woodland having only four players available when it faced Bishop England in a regular season match. The rules infractions, according to DiNardo, pertained to the Bishops allowing Woodland to default the No. 1 singles position to BE senior Steven Weaver.

SINGLES: Harrison Richmond (W) def. Steven Weaver, 6-0, 6-2; Paul Hendrix (W) def. Tristan Fletcher, 6-0, 6-0; Matt Fischer (W) def. Matthew Csernica, 4-6, 6-2, 10-6; Noah Stiepel (BE) def. Robert Jones, 6-4, 6-4; Jazz Green (W) def. Rowe Hicks, 7-5, 4-6, 10-6.

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