Lady Pack finishes atop the conference

Published 3:22 pm Saturday, October 15, 2016

Washington girls’ tennis overcame a bleak start to the season to finish as 2-A Eastern Plains Conference regular-season champion. The Lady Pack went without a win through its non-conference schedule, but rolled past just about every league foe in the second half of the campaign.

The girls rolled over the likes of North Pitt, Southwest Edgecombe and Farmville Central. They picked up confidence with each win.

“We started feeling a lot better when we started playing in conference,” coach Miranda Whitley said. “I told them things would get better after those non-conference losses. I think they had to get through those wins to actually believe it for themselves.

“They really just didn’t believe in themselves. Then, as they started picking up some wins, their confidence on the court started getting much better.”

Washington lost just three sets in its conference matches outside of North Johnston. The Lady Pack and North Johnston split their two meeting in the season. The two squared off one more time on Friday in a tiebreaker to determine which team would get the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. Washington used an excellent showing in singles competition to earn the win, 5-4.

“They were much stronger in singles (on Friday) than they had been in the other matches,” Whitley said. “Because they worked so hard in singles, the doubles was kind of worrisome.”

Neither Logan Crisp nor Mary Grace Wilder had won a singles match against the Lady Panthers before Friday. Crisp dropped the first set, but remained resilient. She won the second set and grinded out an 11-9 win in the third. Wilder nearly mirrored Crisp’s effort, but came up just short in the tiebreaker.

The Lady Pack still has challenges in front of it. The conference tournament is scheduled for Monday at Greene Central, but it’s still up in the air due to flooding in the area. Pitt County schools are out on Monday. Whitley also said she learned that even if Edgecombe County schools are in session on Monday, they can’t play athletic events at all next week.

“We just have to take it day by day now,” she said. “Wednesday is the last day that we can have it. If we don’t get it in by Wednesday, only the top-four seeds in singles and doubles get to go to regionals.”

Nevertheless, Washington is preparing as if Monday’s conference tournament is a go.

Wilder and Kayla Clark will be among Washington’s top singles competitors. Crisp and Nechelle Everette will top off the team’s doubles pairings. They’re the No. 2 seed right now and will qualify for regionals if the tournament doesn’t happen.