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Gryphons tennis duo advances to championship match

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Rocky Mount High's Landon Norwood and doubles partner Sam Phillips will play on Wednesday in the doubles finals match of the Big East Conference individual tournament.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Rocky Mount High tennis player Sam Phillips was looking forward to playing doubles again with his friend Landon Norwood.

“We were last doubles partners in eighth grade but we’ve always been on the same team,” Phillips said after a match on March 26. “And in the offseason we were looking forward to the chance to be partners again.”

The pairing has worked as they have advanced to the the championship doubles match of the Big East Conference individual tournament.

 

The Gryphons will play Wilson Fike’s top doubles pair of Max Fogleman and Marty Madar. The match is part of a two-day tournament which began on Tuesday. Most of the matches have been played, though the singles championship hasn’t been determined.

The Gryphons had two singles players advance in Brody Brice and Tommy Wellenhofer.

Play resumes at 1 p.m. on Wednesday at Barton College.

Eastern Plains Conference

Winning the Eastern Plains Conference became especially rewarding this season as the number of automatic playoffs bids the conference was allowed was cut to one, down from two in previous seasons.

Nash Central went 6-2 and finished second in the conference behind 8-0 Farmville Central this season, and the Bulldogs will have to rely on a wildcard selection to get into the 2-A team playoffs.

The reduction in bids stemmed from North Pitt not fielding a team this year which brought the number of teams in the conference from six to five. North Pitt didn’t win a match over the past three seasons.

Only in conferences with at least six teams do the top two finishers advance.

“We don’t have an idea yet, but there are five wildcards,” Nash Central coach Michael Johnson said. “But we won’t know that until April 29. For now we have individual singles and doubles championships starting (Wednesday).”

The EPC individual championships begin around 10 a.m. on Wednesday at North Johnston High School.

To do well here means a trip to regionals, which can lead to state. That’s the path that Nash Central No. 1 Cameron Johnson took last season as a junior. At state, Johnson lost in the opening round, but his success proved to be a precursor of what has been a strong senior season.

Johnson is 14-0 and is competing in the singles division. Isaiah Hernandez, who was one win away from a trip to state last season and Bulldogs’ No. 2, will also compete in singles.

“If you play well over the next couple of weeks you can advance to state,” Coach Johnson said. “Cameron went last year, and Isaiah was a match away. It should be a good day to get things going.”

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