In the coming years, this match will count for more than county pride.
Beaufort High School will soon place its recent run of region success up against Bluffton High School, its Beaufort County rival. And if this season is an indication, the fight for the 2012 Region 8-AAAA girls tennis title will be competitive.
The Eagles completed a season sweep of the Bobcats on Monday, winning 5-1 at home. The teams played six tiebreakers during the two matches this season. Beaufort High won five of the six.
"We gave this team all we've got," Bluffton coach Bob Brown said. "But they're a step ahead of us."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Island Packet
Beaufort High (14-3) can claim a sixth consecutive region championship by winning its three league matches this week. The Eagles play Fort Dorchester, Ashley Ridge and Colleton County to close the season.
Of those, Ashley Ridge is expected to provide the toughest test. Beaufort High won the first meeting 5-1, but with several close matches.
"Since we're region champions, we really need to win," Eagles' No. 3 singles player Shaye McAulliffe said. "It'd be awful to actually lose."
But the Eagles have not dropped a region match the past five seasons. And McAulliffe, who moved up to No. 3 from her spot at No. 5 last season said Beaufort High's lineup is strong.
The Eagles showed off their mettle Monday. No. 4 Kelsey Butler and No. 5 Addie Everidge dropped their first sets before rallying to win tiebreakers. At No. 1, Chelsea Bellomy trailed 5-2 to Bluffton's Charlotte Loper before rallying to win in two sets.
After a match with Bishop England was rained out earlier this month, Beaufort High coach David Riedmayer said he was glad for the playoff practice with Bluffton.
"I knew they were going to come here fired up and trying to beat us to have a good ending for their season," Riedmayer said. "I just warned the girls that they're coming out to beat you. You better be ready to play."
With the match serving as Bluffton's primer for today's Region 7-AAA tilt with rival Hilton Head High, the Bobcats again experienced the season's theme of being close, but not quite there.
But compared to recent years, Brown said he has been pleased. And if Bluffton does finish runner-up to Hilton Head High for another season, he expects the Bobcats to be one of the more formidable region runner-ups in the Class 3-A playoffs.
"We're not conceding (today's match), but our worst-case scenario is we're eight years in a row region runner-up," Brown said. "And we'll give somebody a headache."
Beaufort High 5, Bluffton 1
Singles: No. 1 Chelsea Bellomy (Beau.) def. Charlotte Loper 7-5, 6-4; No. 2 Charlotte Bellomy (Beau.) def. Samantha Brophy 6-1, 6-0; No. 3 Shaye McAulliffe (Beau.) def. Taylor Soop 6-2, 6-1; No. 4 Kelsey Butler (Beau.) def. Catie Meighan 3-6, 6-2, 13-11; No. 5 Addie Everidge (Beau.) def. Justine Wilson 2-6, 6-3, 10-7.
Doubles: No. 2 Ashley Bierschenk/Cooper Baxter (Bluff.) def. Zoe Brais/Austen Stoddard 7-5, 6-2.