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The Greene Central High varsity girls tennis team has won 24 consecutive conference championships but never, in five tries, have the Lady Rams of the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference captured the Wilson Cup high school girls tennis tournament championship.
After Wednesday afternoon’s 8-1 semifinals conquest of Greenfield School on the Barton College courts in temperatures in the mid-90s, coach Tim Medlin’s squad finds host Fike High the final obstacle for the fourth consecutive year.
The Lady Golden Demons of the 3-A Big East Conference continued their bid for a fourth consecutive Cup crown with a convincing 9-0 semifinals conquest of Rocky Mount Faith Christian of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 2-A ranks.
In the consolation bracket, Charles B. Aycock fought off Hunt 6-3 in a clash of 3-A opponents; and 4-A Corinth Holders thumped 1-A Tarboro 6-0.
Doubles were not contested by mutual agreement and Tarboro, with only five players available, will not return for Saturday morning’s final session, leaving Hunt without a third match.
Saturday’s matches are scheduled for 9 a.m. on the Barton College courts with Fike facing Greene Central for supremacy; Greenfield opposing Faith Christian for third place and Corinth Holders going against CBA for fifth place.
“I’m excited about the rematch and hope we can keep the status going,” remarked junior Logan Adkins, who turned in dominating performances at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles for Fike. “We are going for our fourth straight championship and it would be special to be a part of it three of the four years.”
Said Greene Central’s Medlin: “Maybe we can get them this year. I thought we looked pretty good today, but we are going to have to be strong in doubles. Our lineup is strong enough that it’s going to be hard for anybody to blank us. But if we get passive and roll up a lot of errors in doubles, we are going to be in trouble.”
Fike stopped the Lady Patriots with straight sets singles wins from Adkins at No. 1, junior Avery Rose Brown at No. 2, senior Anna Blair Thomas at No. 3, Sophia Meszaros at No. 4, Mia Hamblin at No. 5 and Cappa Hill at No. 6.
Adkins teamed with Thomas for an 8-1 outcome at No. 1 doubles. In both singles and doubles, the pace of Adkins’ serves and returns was often faster than Faith Christian players could handle.
Adkins explained she is attempting to transform from a doubles fanatic to a singles player capable of stepping up her competitive level and avenging some of her singles losses of last season.
NOW LIKES SINGLES
“I am beginning to really like singles,” she declared. “I like being able to be all over the court and having the pressure on me and nobody else.”
Of Fike’s first two 2018 matches, Adkins responded: “I am feeling really good. It’s really nice to see it all come together, all of us playing our best and all of us excelling is really awesome.”
Coach Lee Matthews, who registered his first win beyond 300, observed: “I have been really pleased. The girls are focused and taking care of business. They are handling what is in front of them and not trying to do too much. It’s a good start.
“Greene Central is going to be a closer match. They don’t have a bunch of players, but their girls are stronger tennis players.”
Faith Christian of the NCISAA 2-A Coastal Conference is coached by Barry Nethercutt, long Fike’s and Matthews’ nemesis at Rocky Mount High.
“We are trying,” Nethercutt said. “Lee has a solid team. Their ability to dictate pace kept us on the defensive a lot. But I have no complaints about our effort and willingness to learn.”
LADY RAMS RULE
Greene Central ruled the 1-A Lady Knights of the NCISAA 1-A/2-A Coastal Plain Independents Conference with straight-sets singles wins from senior Madison Holloman, the ECC Doubles Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017, at No. 1; freshman McKinsey Harper at No. 2, senior Allana Head at No. 3, senior Logan Wilson at No. 4, sophomore Kaylee Tucker at No. 5 and freshman Venancia Miller at No. 6. Greene Central is still without injured sophomore Hinson Britt at No. 1. As a freshman, she was a member of the 2-A East Region doubles championship.
“With Hinson out, we are having to test our options,” exzplained Medlin, 68-16 during his Lady Rams tenure. “We have to see what works and wait for her to come back.”
Greenfield (1-1) averted a shutout with an 8-2 doubles victory from the No. 3 duo of eighth-grader Mae Pridgen and sixth-grader Avery Williams.
“No surprises,” assessed second-year Greenfield coach Robin Morrison. “Greene Central is solid, very strong and more seasoned not only from the baseline but with the serve.
“We are a very young team but I am very proud of them for the way they stroked the ball and stayed with (Greene Central). It’s a good thing. Junior tennis is alive and well in Wilson.”
CBA, a 3-A member of the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference, and Hunt of the 3-A Big East Conference dragged in the intense heat, resulting in the day’s most competitive — and longest — match.
The Lady Golden Falcons (1-1) forged a 4-2 singles lead with victories from sophomore Karlyn Ray at No. 1, junior Abbie Shackleford at No. 2, sophomore Laney Reeves at No. 3 and freshman Abby Wallace at No. 5.
The No. 2 doubles tandem of Shackleford-Grace Mooring clinched with an 8-4 outcome against the Lady Warriors’ Megan Tilloston, a senior, and sophomore Aly Parbst. Tilloston-Parbst whittled a 4-1 deficit to 4-3 and 5-4 before Shackleford and Mooring whistled constant winners to claim the next three games. In singles, Shackleford bested Lady Warriors’ senior Logan Hinnant 6-2, 6-0 at No. 2.
“I was just trying to keep it in play and finding a good time to go for winners,” Shackleford explained her approach. “You’ve got to play smart, no matter who you’re playing.
At No. 1 doubles, CBA’s Ray-Reeves rallied from an 8-7 deficit to force a winner-filled tiebreaker that they won 10-5.
FIRST HUNT WINNER
Parbst became Hunt’s first 2018 winner by a 6-3, 6-3 margin against Mooring at No. 4. Senior McKenzie Hinnant prevailed 6-0, 6-0 at No. 6 and, in doubles, the No. 3 duo of Carmen Bokin-McKenzie Hinnant won 8-2.
“Last year, I played exhibitions and I’m pretty excited,” Parbst said. “I was pretty confident, but it was tough.”
Coach Gene Stancil pointed out the Lady Falcons, without an injured key player, are in a rebuilding process.
“Today was a lot better,” he assessed. “It’s always better to get a win. We were pretty good at the bottom, but a little weak at the top.”
Added Shackleford: “We had good expectations. Today was much better; today, we really got it done.”
Hunt coach Wayne Hardy, back for his second stint, explained the priority is returning routine shots and getting the ball over the net.
“I can see improvement,” he said. “Getting better every match and every practice is all you want to see as a coach. The good thing about this tournament is that it reveals about everything you need to work on.”
Added Parbst: “We did a lot better than Monday (9-0 loss to Greene Central). But we still need some practice and need to work harder.”
Corinth Holders’ first win was keyed by three-set wins from sophomore Makensie Sawyer at No. 1 and senior Brianna Vanderhaar at No. 3. They claimed 10-7 and 10-3, tiebreakers, respectively. Tarboro of the 1-A Coastal Plains Conference departed 0-2.
Wilson Cup Results
Wednesday’s second-day results from the sixth annual Wilson Cup high school girls tennis tournament on the Barton College and Fike High courts.
FIKE 9, FAITH CHRISTIAN 0
Logan Adkins (F) def. Anna Thompson 6-0, 6-1; Avery Rose Brown (F) def. Emily Soundergard 6-0, 6-0; Anna Blair Thomas (F) def. Sarah Jeffries Butler 6-1, 6-1; Sophia Meszaros (F) def. Olivia Pannell 6-1, 6-3; Mia Hamblin (F) def. Kirstyn Jones 6-0, 6-0; Cappa Hill (F) def. Molly Ess 6-1, 6-0.
Adkins-Thomas (F) def. Thompson-Soundergard 8-1; Brown-Hamlin (F) def. Butler-Jones 8-2; Meszaros-Hill (F) def. Pannell-Sarah Nelms 8-3.
GREENE CENTRAL 8, GREENFIELD 1
Madison Holloman (GC) def. Avery Vester 6-0, 6-2; McKinsey Harper (GC) def. Ryan Jennings 6-2, 6-3; Allana Head (GC) def. Jade Pridgen 6-2, 6-2; Logan Wilson (GC) def. Lisa Le 6-1, 6-1; Kaylee Tucker (GC) def. Alex Gardner 6-2, 6-2; Venancia Miller (GC) def. Margaret Covington 6-0, 6-1.
Holloman-Head (GC) def. Jennings-Pridgen 8-0; Tucker-Miller (GC) def. Le-Anna Grace Beddingfield 8-2; Mae Pridgen-Avery Williams (G) def. Shayna Cox-Alli West 8-2.
C.B. AYCOCK 6, HUNT 3
Karlyn Ray (CBA) def. Cara Moss 6-0, 6-4; Abbie Shackleford (CBA) def. Logan Hinnant 6-2, 6-0; Laney Reeves (CBA) def. Megan Tillotson 6-0, 6-1; Aly Parbst (H) def. Grace Mooring 6-3, 6-3; Abby Wallace (CBA) def. Carmen Bokin 6-2, 6-1; McKenzie Hinnant (H) def. Abby Wells 6-0, 6-0.
Ray-Reeves (CBA) def. McKenzie-L. Hinnant 9-8 (10-5); Shackleford-Mooring (CBA) def. Tillotson-Parbst 8-4; Bokin-M. Hinnant (H) def. Wallace-Wells 8-2.
CORINTH HOLDERS 6, TARBORO 0
Makensie Sawyner (CH) def. Grace Whitehurst 6-3, 3-6, (10-7); Angie Jiminez (CH) def. Hope Whitehurst 6-0, 6-0; Brianna Vanderhaar (CH) def. Jordan Thursby 3-6, 6-4, (10-3); Gianna Pettit (CH) def. Ashleigh Perkins 6-1, 6-0; Molly Slemmer (CH) def. Grace Creech 6-0, 6-0; Corinth Holders by forfeit at No. 6 singles.
Doubles not contested by mutual agreement.