Dutch Fork girls tennis coach Gina Hilts credited experience as the deciding factor in her team’s 4-3 Lower State finals win over River Bluff.
Hilts hopes that experience will pay off again Saturday in the state championship against Rock Hill. The match is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Cayce Tennis Center.
“I hope that experience will benefit us. Many of our girls have been on this stage before,” Hilts said. “There are a lot of nerves going, and that can affect you mentally.”
Dutch Fork is making its fourth state championship appearance in the past five seasons, but has only captured one title during that time.
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Dutch Fork is led by No. 1 player Sam Calais, who sports a 16-2 record this season. She’s a four-time all-region player and was named to the 2015 all-state team.
“It’s important for me to have a good match early,” Calais said. “If I can get that first point for our team, that gives the rest of the team a lot of confidence heading into the rest of the match.”
Hilts said this year’s team reminds her of the 2014 team that lifted the state championship trophy.
“There was a lot of senior leadership on that team, and we will have a number of seniors playing Saturday,” Hilts said. “They have been there, and they want it really bad.”
Mid-Carolina will face Bishop England at noon Saturday for the Class 3A title. Mid-Carolina is led by sophomore Elise Mills, who claimed the state singles championship a year ago.
Bishop England hasn’t dropped a game in the playoffs.
In the state volleyball finals Saturday at Dutch Fork High, Camden will be the latest team trying to break Bishop England’s 16-year championship streak.
At Dutch Fork High School
Class A: The Governor’s School vs. Branchville, 10:30 a.m.
Class 2A: Academic Magnet vs. St. Joseph’s, 12:30 p.m.
Class 3A: Camden vs. Bishop England, 2:30 p.m.
Class 4A: North Myrtle Beach vs. Aiken, 4:30 p.m.
Class 5A: Dorman vs. Wando, 7 p.m.
At Cayce Tennis Center
Class 5A: Dutch Fork vs. Rock Hill, 10 a.m.
Class 4A: Greenville vs. Hilton Head, 10 a.m.
Class 3A: Mid-Carolina vs. Bishop England, noon
Class 2A: Christ Church vs. Academic Magnet, noon