LEXINGTON — Chapman's tennis team wanted to end the season with a banner.
The Panthers didn't get the decoration they wanted for the gym wall, but they might have laid a cornerstone for the program.
Previously undefeated Chapman fell 6-0 to Bishop England in the 3A state tennis final on Saturday at the Lexington County Tennis Complex. The win was the Bishops' eighth straight title.
Chapman coach Caleb Crittendon said the Panthers would grow from the experience of playing for the title.
"Just the chance to walk away today with medals and a trophy is an incredible honor for Chapman High School and for the girls tennis program," he said. "The ride was fun. Even though we didn't come out on top, it was fun to have this experience and know we could compete at this level."
The Panthers are an extremely young team, losing just one senior.
"Nothing less than this is what we expect," he said. "Even on the ride home, looking forward to next year and the competition that is going to be ready for us when we get here is where we're looking."
No. 1 seed Elizabeth Williams said the Panthers' loss would drive them to get better.
"I did not expect this at all," Williams said of Chapman's run, which saw them not lose a team point until the playoffs. "I didn't know where we would go. Just to be able to achieve something like this, especially with it being the first time for Chapman, is a great experience and I'm so thankful to be a part of this team. I feel like this tournament has pushed me a lot, and it's definitely going to help me in the future. This is something I'm going to remember for the rest of my life."
Williams said she's proud to be part of the foundation of success at Chapman.
"Since we have such a young team, I think we can build a dynasty," she said. "Hopefully we'll be able to get back here and win this."
Crittendon said that while the ending wasn't what the Panthers hoped for, just playing for a title was huge for his program.
"We're walking away with our heads held high," he said. "We competed against a team who has won this championship several years in a row, and we're proud of what we've done, and motivated to do what we need to do in the offseason to get back."
As for the gym decorations, the Panthers will proudly hang the upper state championship banner.
"We'll take it," Crittendon said. "Absolutely. It's awesome for us."