11/13/05 — Twenty area players earn all-conference honors

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Twenty area players earn all-conference honors

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 13, 2005 2:01 AM

Twenty players from six area schools earned all-conference honors during the women's tennis season which ended last weekend.

Class 3-A state runner-up Charles B. Aycock placed three players -- junior Raychel Batts and seniors Carlyn Claiborne and Nicole Taylor -- on the 12-member Eastern Carolina Conference squad. Batts, a three-time eastern regional singles champion, received the ECC player of the year award.

"Raychel is a great leader on our team and exemplifies all the qualities of an outstanding tennis player -- leadership, powerful ground strokes, mental toughness and a strong serve," said veteran Aycock coach Luke Vail, who picked up the league's coach of the year award. "She plays with a passion to win with tremendous tenacity to hustle after every ball from start to finish."

Batts, Claiborne and Taylor each played an integral role in Aycock's run to an unprecedented 27th consecutive conference championship. The Golden Falcons returned to the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team title match for the first time since 1997 and suffered a 6-0 loss against Jamestown Ragsdale.

Claiborne fashioned a 41-7 singles record during her final two years, while Taylor ended up 19-3. Taylor did not start playing tennis until her sophomore year.

Eastern Wayne enjoyed its most-successful campaign with head coach Nancy Dawson and ended up tied with Wilson Hunt for second place in regular-season play. The Warriors lost the playoff draw, but also landed three quality players on the all-ECC team -- senior Brandi Butts and the doubles of Lauren Bynum-Casie Musgrave.

Southern Wayne freshman Tara Hirsch and No. 1 seed Beth Brown also received all-ECC recognition. Hirsch advanced to the eastern regional individual tournament.

On the 1-A scene, Rosewood and Spring Creek combined to put six players on the all-Carolina Conference list.

Senior Kayce Brantham, a state qualifier, helped the Eagles finish unbeaten in regular-season play and advance to the NCHSAA dual-team playoffs. Joining her on the 10-player roster are Sidney Worrell, Erica Nichols and Missy Bailey.

Senior Stacy Smith, a three-time regional champion, and Kaitlin Murphy represent Spring Creek.

Rosewood coach Debbie Bailey was named coach of the year.

Greene Central, which emerged the 2-A dual-team state champion, put its entire starting lineup on the 12-player all-Eastern Plains Conference team. Seniors Meredith Rouse, Christi Murphy, Ashley Harrell, Michelle Jernigan and Elizabeth Cooper were joined by junior Brittany Horton.

Rouse, who was named EPC player of the year, finished her career with 94 singles victories and tied the school record for doubles wins (106), set by former doubles mate Sarah Moore.

"Meredith played well for us in every singles match she played her senior season," said veteran Greene Central coach Donald Clark. "She has been such a steady influence and great leader for us all year long. She's played a lot of the best players in North Carolina this year, and every time she has gone after them with everything she has ... not backed down."