Greene Central wins 25th straight conference tennis title
Greene Central picked up its 25th consecutive conference title Monday, as former players joined the current Rams roster in celebration. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
SNOW HILL | It’s a tradition unlike most others in Eastern North Carolina.
Greene Central’s girls’ tennis team clinched its 25th consecutive conference title Monday with a victory over North Lenoir, continuing a tradition which has stretched since 1994. The Rams have dominated the tennis scene for two-and-a-half decades and Madison Holloman said she’s thankful the 2018 team could keep the streak going.
“It feels great we’ve been able to carry it on for the past 24 teams,” Holloman said. “(Coach Tim Medlin’s) taught me a lot over the years (and my teammates and I) have grown a lot over the years, and been more of a family over a team.”
Medlin took over the program in 2014 after longtime coach Donald Clark stepped down. Clark took the job in 1988 and retired after 20 consecutive titles, as Medlin picked up where he left off.
“(Greene Central) called me out of the blue and said ‘Coach Clark has retired and recommended you,’” Medlin said. “I was a former tennis pro and was a little nervous about my time, but from the moment I met the girls and saw their enthusiasm, I saw what type of program I was about to (inherit) and wanted to be a part of it.”
The players took the streak as serious, if not more, than the coaches. Taylor Williams, who played tennis for the school from 2014 through 2017, said the team didn’t take any conference opponent lightly.
“Every time we had a conference match we got scared, because we wanted to keep the streak alive and try our best every time we got out there,” Williams said.
Peyton Beaman, who played for Clark in 2013 during her freshman season, said Medlin taught her plenty as she honed her skills and was the team’s No. 1 player in her final three seasons.
“I didn’t get a lot of time my freshman year, but (Coach) Medlin definitely helped me out as a player,” Beaman said. “I didn’t think I was going to play varsity and I didn’t really take lessons, so Coach was really helpful. I played volleyball in middle school and never really tried tennis, but my friends played it so I tried it in high school.”
Lauren Pate played from 2007 through 2011 under Clark and said she and her teammates weren’t afraid of the moment.
“We knew going into the sport we were continuing the legacy and we had expectations to uphold,” Pate said. “We played the sport all the time and had fun doing it — we weren’t really looking at the streak as much as just playing good tennis.”
Barbara Adams, who taught at Greene Central for 31 years, said the Rams weren’t always a strong team but improved immensely under Clark.
“He just put himself totally into it,” Adams said. “During my daughter (Blake Evans’) freshman year, she hadn’t picked up a racket and was No. 1 on the team (as they were at the bottom). Then, all these girls meshed, went to camps and next thing you know they’re blossoming. (Blake’s) sophomore year, they won the conference and her junior year, her and Elizabeth Turk were the girls’ first doubles champions the school ever had.”
As the team continues to grow, Greene Central freshman Venancia Miller said she’s thankful to be a part of the tradition.
“It feels great, especially to participate in something so big,” Miller said. “It feels good to be able to continue the streak with new people.”
Greene Central is now looking to stretch the streak to at least 2022, which would make it the longest in NCHSAA history.
“This started before these girls were even born and half of my life,” Medlin said. “Now, we’ve got the state record staring at us now (of 28 years by C.B. Aycock). I’m proud of the girls for their hard work, and for the middle school team who will play a part of breaking the state record. It’s very exciting, humbling and I’m proud to be a part of it.”