By winning the 1A and 2A sections of the Three Rivers Conference, East and South Columbus, respectively, knew an automatic playoff bid was a perk. South Columbus was assured an automatic bid, but did not clinch the number one bid from the conference until a 7-2. Saturday morning win over West Bladen. East Columbus clinched the top 1A spot with a week remaining in the regular season.South Columbus will host Wilson Beddingfield and East Columbus will host Chatham Central, Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Whiteville finished third in the conference with a record of 14-4. The Wolfpack held out hope its record would be good enough to earn the one wildcard slot available in the 32-team field. Even though one team (CATA) had a better overall percentage and another (Central Davidson) had the same record as Whiteville, Whiteville’s geographic location was the deciding factor in obtaining the only available wildcard berth. Tennis is one of the few sports that still has predetermined brackets by conference finish. In other sports, the teams are selected, then longitude determines which teams are East and West. In tennis, the wildcard would be awarded to the “East” team with the best overall record that was not an automatic qualifier. Whiteville fit the bill and will travel to take on East Duplin, also 14-4, Wednesday.
Seven wildcard slots were available in the 24-team 1A bracket. Although West Columbus (7-11) did not have one of the seven-best overall marks of non automatic qualifiers, its record was third best among teams in the East. West Columbus will visit Franklin Academy (14-0) in first round play Wednesday.