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Tiller gains all-state tennis laurels

Posted: November 15, 2011 9:37 a.m.
Updated: November 16, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Camden High School’s Katie Tiller enjoyed her most successful state singles tournament to date with her first top eight finish in last weekend’s South Carolina High School League’s AAA-AAAA combined tournament.

The Lady Bulldogs’ first singles player since she was in the seventh grade, Tiller has won three consecutive Region VI AAA player of the year honors and this past season, paced first-year head coach Stephen Sutusky’s squad to a berth in the AAA Lower State semifinals.

On Friday at the Lexington Tennis Complex, Tiller downed Easley High School’s Abby Cook, 6-0, 7-5, in the first round of the event. In round two, Tiller earned a hard-fought 6-3, 6-4 victory over Greenville High’s Christina Merchant.

"Merchant knocked Katie out of this tournament a year ago, so for Katie to come back and beat her this year makes the victory even sweeter," Sutusky said.

In Friday’s third round of championship play, Tiller faced third-seeded Rachel McNeeley of West-Oak High School. The two juniors played in temperatures which had dropped into the 30s by the end of the match.

McNeely took an easy first set win over Tiller, before the CHS standout rebounded in the second set. "Katie gained momentum in the second set and nearly took the set outright" stated Sutusky.

McNeely would clinch the victory over Tiller with a 7-5 win in the third set tie-breaker.

On Saturday morning, Tiller earned an 8-2 pro match win over Clover’s Katie Stewart to find herself in the consolation semifinals. Tiller then faced Hilton Head’s Sabrina Drammis, who handed Tiller an 8-3 setback.

Tiller left the tournament with a 3-2 record against the top AAA-AAAA girl’s players in the state. The top eight finish gave Tiller the distinction of earning all-state laurels; an honor which has not been bestowed on any Camden High girls tennis player since Pamela Smoak more than 20 years ago.

"Making all-state is a great honor for Katie," Sutusky said. "She works hard every time she’s on the court; for her to lead our team to the best team finish we’ve had in decades and then gain individual recognition in this tournament is a great accomplishment for her."


Speaks takes title:

McNeely would lose in the tournament championship to Mauldin High School’s Ansley Speaks, daughter of Camden native and former Camden High and Furman University quarterback, Chris Speaks. She is the granddaughter of Nancy and the late John Speaks of Camden.

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