The girls golf season winds down with the state championships Monday and Tuesday, while the girls tennis season heats up when the playoffs begin Tuesday for Class 4A and Thursday for all other classes.
The Midlands will be well-represented in both sports during the postseason.
In golf, Lexington will shoot for state championship No. 6 in row at the Class 4A state tournament at Three Pines Golf Club in Woodruff.
At the Class 3Atournament, played at Conway's Quail Creek Golf Club, A.C. Flora and Chapin look for strong finishes after both placed in the top 10 last season
In tennis, Dutch Fork and Irmo enter the playoffs after placing first and second, respectively, in Region 5-4A. A.C. Flora is the area's best Class 3A team and, in SCISA, Heathwood Hall hopes to win the state after a second-place finish in 2008.
The SCISA state championships will be played Friday and Saturday at the Palmetto Tennis Center in Sumter.
After placing third at the Class 3A state tournament last season, the Falcons have a squad to challenge for a state championship again.
A.C. Flora posted the top team score at Monday's Class 3A Upper State qualifier. The Falcons logged a 307 to finish 13 strokes better than second-place Riverside, which won the Class 3A state championship in 2008.
Alex Van Dine and Collins Bradshaw give A.C. Flora a potent 1-2 punch to build its team around.
Van Dine, the fourth-place individual finisher at last year's state tournament at 73, fired a 72 at Monday's Upper State qualifer. The was good for second-best behind a 71 by Seneca's Austin Ernst.
Bradshaw, the No. 1-rated junior female golfer by the S.C. Junior Golf Association, shot a 76 at the qualifer. Last season, Bradshaw placed 12th in the state with a 76.
A.C. Flora also returns Lauren Dunbar, who placed 16th in the state last season at 81. Dunbar shot a 78 at this year's qualifier. Also back is Virginia Lesslie, who contributed an 86 at the state tournament last season. Lesslie shot an 81 on Monday.
A ninth-place finish in the state last season provided motivation as Chapin hopes to crack the top five this season.
The Eagles will count on their top three golfers to get them there.
Libby Crawford, Melissa Meetze and Mary Chandler Bryan are ranked among the top 70 female golfers in the state by the S.C. Junior Golf Association.
Meetze (89) and Crawford (97) had two of Chapin's top three scores at the 2008 Class 3A statetournament. Both look to lower those numbers on Monday and Tuesday at Quail Creek Golf Club in Conway.
Lexington owns five consecutive Class 4A state golf championships, but that doesn't make the Wildcats' drive for No. 6 any less passionate.
Seniors Maureen Dunnagan and Kathryn Miranda are back after helping the Wildcats fire a 609 to win last year's state tournament by 25 strokes over Dorman.
Dunnagan, rated as the state's No. 4 female golfer by the S.C Junior Golf Association, placed fourth in Class 4A last season, firing a 36-hole total of 151. Miranda was seven strokes back at 158, in ninth place. Miranda is No. 12 in the state in the SCJGA's all-classificiation rankings.
Dutch Fork and Irmo battled for the top two positions in Region 5-4A, each the other's toughest competition. Heading into the Lower State tournament, both teams are well prepared for deep playoff runs.
Neither program is a stranger to the state semifinals, but both will face tougher challenges on the way there this season. Dutch Fork, which defeated Irmo on Sept. 24, is the probable No. 1 seed and will have a clearer path into the late rounds. Meanwhile, the No. 2 seed likely will be saddled with a second-round match against Region 7's top seed, probably Wando, and could see Region 6 No. 1 (West Florence) in the third round. Coach Suzanne Gray has the experience to guide the Yellow Jackets through the challenges and, if both teams have their way, to a third meeting - in the Lower State championship.
One of two playoff spots allotted to Class 3A Region 4 had A.C. Flora's name on it from the beginning of the season. Led by Caroline DeLoach at No. 1 singles, the Falcons climbed to the top of their mountain, going undefeated in region competition. They have been near the top of the statewide rankings through the season, but in the playoffs will face some of the state's toughest 3A squads, with Greenville and J.L. Mann standing in their path to the state title.
The Falcons reached the Upper State final last year before falling to Mann's Patriots. They are in good position to change the result this year, as Mann's roster has seen more change than the Falcons'.
A.C. Flora's big advantage: The Falcons have an experienced lineup and a group of girls who work well together. DeLoach's older sister, Shannon, plays No. 3 singles. Julia Spong plays No. 2 and her sister Anna Spong plays doubles for the the Falcons.
Heathwood Hall has been to the dance more than a few times and this season is not likely to be an exception.
Led by Lauren Armstrong and Caroline Lough at No. 1 and 2 singles, the Highlanders are favored to reach the SCISA Class 3A championship for the third consecutive year.
Heathwood won it all in 2007, and finished runner-up to Ashley Hall last year. This time, the Highlanders had a first-round bye and barring upsets, should see Porter-Gaud in Friday's third round.
The Cyclones are the biggest threat in Heathwood's half of the bracket, having dealt the Highlanders their only regular season losses.