With young squads back, the Vikings and Wildcats could once again split the MEC championship
Outlook: New Hanover and Hoggard split the conference championship for a second straight season in 2017, and both teams return a ton of talent this year.
The Wildcats will have all-conference honorees in Mary Davis Thompson (first team), Frances Coleman (first team) and Kate Thompson (second team). Mary Davis Thompson went 25-4 in singles last year and was named the MEC Player of the Year. The Wildcats reached the 3A East final and look poised for an even further run in the playoffs this season with their returning talent.
Hoggard's all-conference performers back this season are Macy Morrison (first team), Elizabeth Vollmin (first team), Sydney Lee (second team), Anna Haskins (second team), Alex Lee (second team) and Olivia Kingman (third team). Morrison and Vollmin each went 15-1 in singles last season.
The two favorites will square off on Sept. 18 and Oct. 9. A sweep by either side would likely earn an outright MEC title.
Laney and Topsail finished tied for third last season, but both teams lost their No. 1 seeds.
Past three champions: Hoggard (2017, 2016), New Hanover (2017, 2016), Laney (2015).
Players to watch: Jr. Francis Coleman (New Hanover), Soph. Kylee Edwards (Topsail), Soph. Macy Morrison (Hoggard), Soph. Mary Davis Thompson (New Hanover), Soph. Elizabeth Vollmin (Hoggard)
AROUND THE AREA
Outlook: Ana Sharbaugh is back, and that means Cape Fear Academy is heading for another fantastic season.
The three-time StarNews Player of the Year went 11-0 in singles and 12-0 in doubles last year. The only question left is if she can lead the Hurricanes to a state title. They reached the semifinals of the NCISAA 2A bracket in 2017.
Helping Sharbaugh in that quest will be senior Laila Goudarzi, who plays No. 2 singles and teams up with Sharbaugh in No. 1 doubles. Aside from Goudarzi and Sharbaugh, the Hurricanes return all six of their top seeds.
In the Three Rivers Conference, Whiteville will try to bounce back after a third-place finish in 2017.