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A combined 38-5 record in singles and doubles was too much to ignore for the six girls tennis coaches in the 3-A Big East Conference.
Although junior Logan Adkins did not direct her Fike High team to a defense of the 2017 Big East title, her body of work couldn’t be overlooked in the end.
Therefore, Adkins, who entered 2018 as the reigning Big East Player of the Year, was a unanimous pick to repeat the honor at the recently held end-of-year coaches meeting.
“There’s a lot of respect for her around the league,” Fike coach Lee Matthews aid. “Her body of work, as far as singles and doubles, she’s motivated to the point of having won player of the year last year. She was not going to let anybody outwork her and win it this year.
With three new players in the starting lineup for Fike, the Lady Demons finished 16-3 overall and posted a runner-up showing in the Big East at 8-2 behind unblemished champion Rocky Mount. The team dropped a narrow 5-4 decision to Clayton in the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association postseason.
But from an individual standpoint, Adkins decided to test her lot in singles play before the start of her senior season. Adkins finished 23-2, with losses to D.H. Conley’s Madison Cullipher and Topsail’s Kylee Edwards in the second round of the 3-A East regional. Along the way, Adkins seized the Big East singles championship by beating Southern Nash’s Stacie Winner 6-3, 6-3 in the finals.
“I’m excited,” Adkins said of repeating as player of the year. “I think this year was a different atmosphere with a lot of different people in the lineup. We had to rebuild team chemistry.”
In producing a 15-3 showing in doubles, the bulk of Adkins’ work was with senior Anna Blair Thomas en route to a 13-3 mark. She also teamed with senior Libby Thompson and junior Mia Hamblin to pick up additional victories in the No. 2 position.
As a doubles player, Adkins owns a NCHSAA 3-A East regional title, having teamed with Cameron Milne to win the 2016 championship. Adkins and Anna Blair Thomas reached the regional semifinals last year.
However, with the possibility of collegiate tennis on the horizon, Adkins wanted a taste of independence in the 2018 postseason.
“It wasn’t anything against anyone,” Adkins said of playing singles in the individual playoffs. “With my senior year coming up, I wanted to see how I would do competitively and I wanted to see how I matched up going into next year.”
Regular-season champion Rocky Mount led the way with four selections, including Caroline Broderick, Mary Katherine Broderick, Carson Browder and Katie Moss.
In addition to Adkins as player of the year, Fike placed Thomas, a senior. Thomas made a sizable jump in the lineup for Fike with a reshuffled group, moving from No. 6 to No. 3 and putting up an overall record of 31-9.
She went 15-4 at No. 3 singles and parlayed her partnership with Adkins into the 13-3 mark in the top doubles spot.
Third-place Northern Nash was represented by Chloe Harrington and Nisaja Thomas.
Southern Nash and Hunt tied for fourth, with the Ladybirds getting a pair of selections in Winner and senior Katelyn Cox.
Winner was the pacesetter for Southern Nash at No. 1, going 11-7 and 8-6 at No. 1 doubles with teammate Brandi Curtis. Cox proved to be a doubles specialist in the No. 2 position, posting a combined record of 10-6. Her 9-5 showing at No. 2 was with senior Alexis Mendez.
The original plan for the Big East coaches was to allocate all-conference selections on a 3-2-2-2-2-1 system. However, Hunt’s Wayne Hardy ceded one of his two selections to Rocky Mount, leaving senior Logan Hinnant as the Lady Warriors’ lone selection.
Franklinton, winless in Big East play, presented with Grace Cottrell on the all-conference rolls.
Honorable mention went to Fike junior Avery Rose Brown, Southern Nash senior Brandi Curtis, Rocky Mount’s Caroline Land, Rachell McDonald of Franklinton, Northern Nash’s Ayshia Palmer and Hunt senior Megan Tillotson.
Rocky Mount’s Charlie Lawrence Jr. was recognized as conference champion coach.