Athlete of the Week: Cox leads Socastee comeback

soctennis-coxSocastee High sophomore tennis standout Anna Brice Cox has been a top player for the Lady Braves since the seventh grade. But this year she found herself in the unfamiliar role of team leader. Just like tennis, which she began playing at the age of 4, it came to her naturally.

Serving as co-captain on a team with no seniors, Cox led by both actions and words to turn a team that started the season 0-3 into the first Socastee squad to win the region championship in two decades. Led by Cox’s 14-1 single record and undefeated doubles mark, the Lady Braves won 14 consecutive matches to close the regular season and are ready to make a playoff run.

“This season started rough because we have such a young team,” said Cox, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week. “This was supposed to be a rebuilding season while we made a bond with the new girls, but we all kind of clicked. We came together, worked hard and stayed positive, and it paid off.”

In addition to leading by example by winning her matches, Cox also gives the team a pre-match pep talk that has become a bit of a ritual for the Lady Braves. During their slow start, Cox invited the team to make hair bows, which have become lucky charms during Socastee’s undefeated run to the Region 6-4A title.

She and best friend/doubles partner Joy Renfrow, who plays No. 2 singles, also have a couple of superstitions when they play together: Lose a point, get rid of the ball. Also, if they misfire on a high-five, it’s a do-over. It might sound silly but it’s hard to argue with results. The duo is undefeated this season.

“It’s been an awesome experience because we’ve been best friends since we were like 10 but we never got the chance to play doubles together until this year,” said Cox, who has played No. 1 singles since the eighth grade. “We have a good time, and really all the girls have stepped up and come together as a team and as friends.”

Cox has been a dream player and leader for Socastee tennis coach Debbie Atkins: “I first saw Anna playing tennis at Prestwick. The racket looked bigger than her,” she recalled. “The next year, I invited her to play tennis for Socastee. This was her seventh grade year. I had never seen a little girl with so much energy and enthusiasm for the game.”

Cox plans to take that same approach into next week’s playoffs and refuses to buy into the idea that Socastee might be too young to make a deep run. “This time a month ago we didn’t think we would go undefeated in the region and that worked out,” she said. “We’re going into it playing well and believing in each other, so we’re going to go for it.”

Photo by Joel Beachum / Carolina Clicks Photos

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