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Chapin ends memorable campaign for CHS netters

Posted: November 2, 2011 11:41 a.m.
Updated: November 4, 2011 5:00 a.m.
C-I photo by Tom Didato/

CAMDEN'S VIRGINIA BETH ARIAL scored a straight sets victory over Chapin's Ashley Bauer on Tuesday to close her season with an 11-4 record in fourth singles.

Being a social studies teacher, Stephen Sutusky has a keen appreciation for history.

So, when the first-year Camden High girl’s tennis coach discovered that none of his current group of players had ever won a AAA state playoff match, given the tennis tradition at the school, he was caught a bit off-guard.

Making its deepest post-season run since the 2000 squad fell to Dreher in second round tournament action, the current Lady Bulldogs came out on the short end of a 4-2 decision against visiting Chapin on Tuesday before a large crowd at the Camden High Athletic Complex.

The loss capped a memorable 6-12 season for Camden, which won the Region 6 crown and defeated Dreher in last week’s state tournament opener. Chapin, which took the Region 5 title, remained unbeaten through 19 matches and hosted Hilton Head in Thursday’s Lower State finals.

“I couldn’t believe it when these juniors said that they never won a match in the playoffs,” Sutusky said. “I tried to find a lie with that and I went to the High School League’s Website and found that we had not won a playoff match in 10 years.

“That’s pretty impressive for this group of girls to do what they have done.”

Camden got off to a hot start on a chilly afternoon with four of its five singles players winning their first set. It would be the Lady Eagles, however, who struck the first blow when their unbeaten second doubles tandem of Kayla Gearhart and Katie McDaniel handed Chelsea Reed and Clark Allen a pair of 6-0 losses. Chapin went on top, 2-0, when Mary Catherine Dickinson defeated Kelsey Williams, 6-1, 7-5, in third singles.

The Lady Bulldogs reached the scoreboard for the first time when Virginia Beth Ariail delivered a pair of 6-4 setbacks to Ashley Bauer at fourth singles.

Chapin closed to within one match of advancing to the Lower State finals when Amber Johnson scored a 6-7 (7-9), 6-0, (10-8) win Helen Koutroulakis in fifth singles. The guests then went over the top when Savannah Melonas outlasted Madison Hudson, 6-4, 2-6, (10-5), to make it 4-1.

With the match no longer in doubt, Camden first singles player, Katie Tiller, handed previously unbeaten Savanna Fuller a 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 10-7 loss under the lights, nearly two hours after the contest had started.

After seeing the way his team opened on Tuesday, Sutusky thought his team was poised to pull off the upset.

“I kind of felt that we had one way to win it and that was, win three matches and get it to number one doubles and try to win it, 4-3,” he said. “You feel like Katie Tiller will give you a win at number one. And with the way Virginia Beth Ariail has been winning lately, you kind of feel like you’re going to get a win there so, you need to find one more.

“I thought that between Helen Koutroulakis and Madison Hudson that maybe, we could find a win. For a while, all four of those girls were winning. They all won their first sets and we were comfortable with that. We were doing better than I ever thought that we would be doing. Chapin just came roaring back to narrowly defeat us.”

Camden started out the season having to scramble in order to find enough players to fill out its roster, something which the Lady Bulldogs were able to do as the season went on. And, with several first-time varsity performers, the schedule which Sutusky and company inherited was hardly what a first-year head coach and inexperienced players playing key roles needed to face.

Included in the non-conference portion of the slate were pairings against 4A entries such as Spring Valley, Richland Northeast, Sumter, West Florence and Blythewood. Facing that caliber of competition helped the Lady Bulldogs later in the year.

“We had an up-and-down season; playing a lot of strong 4A teams gave us all we wanted and more in the regular season,” Sutusky said. “But I think our strength of schedule paid off once we got into our region season and then, in the playoffs last week against Dreher and again today, where we gave Chapin all they wanted in the Lower State semifinals. We had a good little run.”

Sutusky then tipped his hat to his players; a group which he said was a pleasure to be around.

“We only have seven players, which is what it takes to play,” he said. “They’re a great group of girls. They do the right thing in the classroom and on the court.”


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