Toast of the Coast: Waccamaw’s Rice finishes as one of S.C.’s finest tennis players

01/21/2013 5:54 PM

01/21/2013 6:51 PM

For everything Tolley Rice accomplished in her four years at Waccamaw, there was somehow something else she wanted before her high school career was over.

Rice is one of six girls in the history of the state and just the second in the Class AA/A format to win four straight individual singles titles. She finished her senior season undefeated and was named All-State for the fourth consecutive season.

The Toast of the Coast Girls Tennis Player of the Year desperately wanted one more team title, though.

“When we won my freshman and sophomore year, it was like the team was all celebrating together,” Rice said. “I hate that we couldn’t have won as a team. That could have been really awesome if we won it my senior year.”

That’s about the only knock on Rice’s time with the Warriors, and it’s one that’s only coming from the player herself. As far as anyone else is concerned, she left nothing on the table.

After transferring to Waccamaw from Myrtle Beach prior to ninth grade, Rice defeated Manning’s Lindsey Lyles as a freshman for the state title. As a sophomore she took down St. Joseph’s Chandler Consonery before beating Christ Church’s Olivia Lucas in the finals as a junior and senior.

Each of those players was ranked No. 2 in the state. But they had little on the player who was No. 1.

“For an individual player, it’s something that someone would dream about,” Waccamaw coach Joan Cribb said. “It’s something that doesn’t happen every day. If I was playing tennis and I would have done it, I would be glowing. I would feel like I had really accomplished something in my life because only a few people had done it in their life.

“It’s easy to win one. But when you win four straight?”

In total, just seven players total (boys and girls) have ever accomplished the feat in the history of S.C. tennis. Yes, the sometimes-shy senior is proud of herself, but she also exceeded her high expectations by never concentrating specifically on the titles.

“It means that my hard work has paid off. It feels really good to have that record,” Rice said. “I didn’t really think that far ahead. When I over-think things, I tend to not do as well.”

She used that approach as a senior, especially. By that point, she was already a heavy favorite to make it four straight. She was debating last-minute college choices – she signed to a full scholarship with Elon on Nov. 20.

Ten days prior to that, though, she completed her historic career with the individual state championship.

It imprinted her legacy into what is already a stout list of legacies at Waccamaw.

“I want them to remember me as a hard worker,” Rice said, “and someone who works to achieve her goals.”

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