High School Sports

Two Rivers 3A Conference girls tennis preview

Cleveland’s Leah Gilchrist keeps her eyes on the ball during a match last season.
Cleveland’s Leah Gilchrist keeps her eyes on the ball during a match last season. newsobserver.com

The Two Rivers 3A conference may be only two years old, but Triton can claim to be the only school to have won its championships in girls’ tennis

And it remains a fact that Coach Dana Davis’ teams have yet to lose a conference match.

A couple of Johnston County teams are hoping to put an end to the streak this season, but the Hawks will be Queens of the Mountain until someone knocks them off.

“I think we should be strong again,” said Davis, who is in her 10th season at the helm and lost only two seniors from last year’s club. “We have a lot of really dedicated players. But we know Cleveland and Corinth Holders will be strong again and we have our work cut out for us.”

Cleveland coach Emily Purvis may have her top five back, but whether or not that works out the Rams will have a strong nucleus.

“I think we’ll be decent,” Purvis said. “We’ll be able to hold our own. We’ve got a lot of girls who have worked hard and it’s showing in the first couple of practices.

“But Triton is going to be strong again and I’m expecting Corinth Holders to be good.”

First-year Corinth Holders coach Jeff Parker said the Pirates should be very competitive.

“We’ll be strong in the top two spots,” Parker said. “And then we have several girls who are competing really hard for three through five. We know we’ll be pretty deep. And Triton and Cleveland will still be the teams to beat.”

Triton (10-2 overall, 10-0 conference in 2014): Davis says the Hawks will have good competition for their No. 1 spot, with seniors Emily Neville and Madison Newton challenging for the honors.

Cleveland (9-4, 7-3): Purvis says she’s counting on leadership from three seniors and two juniors. Senior leaders should be Bailey Holloman, Madison Fulk and Leah Gilchrist, while the top juniors are Kayla Smith and Kaley Clifton.

Corinth Holders (8-6, 7-3): Parker says senior Megan Dyer and junior Alex Rodier are going at it for the No. 1 spot. Senior Ashley Stefano and junior Cecilia Fricke should provide top depth along with freshman Isabella Duncan.

South Johnston (4-6, 4-6): April Johnson is in her fifth season at the Trojans’ helm, saying despite losing her top four players she thinks they can be competitive. Senior Skyler Johnson should be the No. 1 with classmate Alicia Lee as her doubles partner. Juniors Lauren Register and Kayla Benson should be the second doubles team.

Smithfield-Selma (5-13, 2-8): James Reid was a star for the Spartans 30 years ago, and says he wants to make both SSS teams competitive for championships. The coach his current players have been “like sponges” in their approach to learning the game. Junior Caroline Carter is in her third season as the No. 1, while classmate Johanna Torres adds starting experience.

Western Harnett (0-12, 0-10): Veteran coach John Stull says this season’s Eagles should be the strongest group he has had in five years. Seniors Alexes Salinas, Olivia Manning and Emily Moffitt are the top three.