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Lady Bulldogs edge Dreher in 3A tennis opener

Posted: October 28, 2011 10:38 a.m.
Updated: October 31, 2011 5:00 a.m.
Photo courtesy of Johnny Deal/

CAMDEN’S MADISON HUDSON UNCOILS after a serve during action from Thursday’s first round AAA state playoff win over Dreher at the CHS Athletic Complex.

Katie Tiller and Madison Hudson teamed for 6-2, 7-5 win at first doubles to give the Camden High girls’ tennis team a 4-3 win over visiting Dreher in Thursday’s AAA state playoff match contested at the Camden High School Athletic Complex.

Tiller, a junior, won in convincing fashion with a 6-0, 6-2 victory in first singles to get the Lady Bulldogs off on the right foot against the Region 5 runner-up.

"We really rely on Katie to get a win every time out, she’s our tone setter," said first-year Camden head coach Stephen Sutusky.

In second singles, Camden’s Madison Hudson made easy work of the Lady Blue Devils’ Mariclare Martin, 6-3, 6-4, to give the hostesses a quick, 2-0 lead. "Madison has probably been our best player the past three weeks," Sutusky said. "All season long, she’s shown flashes of greatness, but she is peaking now at the right time."

Dreher took third singles with Raquel Brown outlasting CHS freshman Kelsey Williams to trim Camden’s lead to 2-1. Dreher would tie the match at two wins apiece when the doubles team of Sarah Steedman and Tatiana Adams defeated the Bulldogs’ pairing of Clarke Allen and Chelsea Reed.

"Kelsey has been a solid player for us, I think she’s a year away from really making some noise on the high school level, but she’s such a good tennis player," Sutusky said of Williams. "Her consistent play keeps her in all of her matches.

"As for our (second) doubles team, I can’t say enough about their hard work this season, being complete novices they’ve really come along way and have a bright future,"

Helen Koutroulakis, playing at fifth singles for Camden, dropped straight sets to Lindsay Gibson. Playing under the weather, Koutroulakis played Gibson a hard-fought match, but in the end Dreher took a 3-2 match lead with one result still in doubt.

In fourth singles, Camden’s Virginia Beth Ariail lost the first set to Chandler Degernhart, 6-7, but battled back to take the second set in convincing fashion, 6-1.

"Virginia Beth’s MO has been to drop the first set and then come roaring back to win," Sutusky said, "so, of course, we weren’t too nervous when she lost that first one; she’s done it countless times this year. We wish she’d be a tad bit more consistent in the first set, but as long as she keeps winning (CHS assistant coach) Neil Vroegop and I can’t say much."

The stage was set for Ariail and Degenhart to play a tie-break and Ariail came out on top, 10-7, in what was a back and forth pro set.

Both teams’ top two players took the court in doubles to settle the tie and play for a trip into the elite eight of AAA state girls’ tennis tournament.

Tiller and Hudson easily took the first set, 6-2, before Alexa Breeland and Mariclare Martin took a 2-0 and then, a 4-3 second set lead for the Blue Devils. The duo of Tiller and Hudson were not yet done and willed their team into the next round of the state playoffs by winning five of the next six games to win the match 7-5 and give Camden its first playoff win in at least six seasons.

"Some of these girls have been on the team five years and said they’ve never been to the second round of the playoffs," Sutusky said. "While a little surprised, I couldn’t be happier for this group. They had such a tough schedule in the regular season, but that along with their work ethic is paying dividends now.

"Assistant coach Neil Vroegop has really helped them tremendously and we look forward to Chapin on Tuesday."

Region 5 Champion Chapin will travel to Camden, the Region 6 champion, Tuesday afternoon at the CHS Athletic Complex in a 5 p.m. start. The one common opponent both teams this season has been Dreher, whom Chapin twice defeated by the same 4-3 score.

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