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

For The Sun NewsJanuary 21, 2013 

  • The team Girls Tennis Player of the Year Tolley Rice School | Waccamaw Class | Senior Highlights | Four-time individual champion in the Class AA/A individual state tournament and finished 13-0 as a senior. Named All-Region and All-State each of last four seasons, and helped Waccamaw to a pair of state team titles in last four seasons, including this year, when she was a North-South All-Star selection. Singles Jessie Dumas School | Myrtle Beach Class | Junior Highlights | Finished 17-2 at No. 1 Singles and 12-2 at No.1 doubles. Georgetown “Battle of the Beach” tournament MVP and All-State in 2012. All-Region each of last two seasons. Rachel Gresko School | Socastee Class | Sophomore Highlights | Finished fourth in Class AAAA/AAA individual state tournament after going 7-0 in No. 1 singles and 5-1 in doubles. Named to Class AAA All-State team and All-Region VII-AAA squad. Sarah Elliott School | Waccamaw Class | Senior Highlights | North-South All-Star selection was 12-1 at No. 2 singles. Played in the Class AA/A individual state tournament each of last three seasons. Signed to continue career at Coker. Anna Dusenberry School | Aynor Class | Senior Highlights | Split time between Aynor’s Nos. 1-2 singles, finishing with overall record of 12-5 in singles. Named to All-Region VIII-AA each of last two seasons, and finished with 28-9 career singles record. Rachel Berkey School | Myrtle Beach Class | Sophomore Highlights | Went 18-2 in No. 1 singles and 12-2 in doubles for the Seahawks. Team captain was named All-Region each of last two seasons, when Myrtle Beach won region titles. Doubles Natalie Floyd and Anne Brice Cox Schools | Green Sea Floyds, Socastee Class | Senior, seventh grade Highlights | Floyd helped Green Sea Floyds to a fifth straight Region VIII-A title and qualified for the Class AA/A individual state tournament. Was 9-4 in individual singles and 7-3 for the Trojans’ No. 1 doubles team. Cox split time between Socastee’s Nos. 1-2 doubles team and finished 8-1 in those matches. Also 13-1 as Braves’ No. 2 singles player.

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.”

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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