09/02/09 — Eagle netters climb to 4-0 this season

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Eagle netters climb to 4-0 this season

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 2, 2009 1:46 PM

A quick start -- and finish.

Wayne Christian seized the first game on each singles court and cruised past Franklin Academy 9-0 at Herman Park on a sun-splashed, pleasant Tuesday afternoon.

The pro sets (eight games) passed quickly as the Eagles fired consistent first serves and ripped crisp ground strokes on the John Allen Farfour Courts. Five of six players posted a shutout as Wayne Christian needed just 45 minutes to improve to 4-0 overall this season.

A first-year program, Franklin Academy exited 0-2.

"I told the girls to go out with a good attitude, have good sportsmanship and if you're winning, be humble," said Eagles co-coach Dana Willman. "I just wanted them to have fun because that's what it's about."

Seventh-grader Taylor Willman and freshman Blake Govan each took less than 30 minutes to defeat their respective opponents 8-0. Senior Samantha Reaves, and eighth-graders Faith Sutton and Savannah Sutton each logged an 8-0 victory.

Top-seeded Brooke Barfield, a freshman, won the final six games in a 8-1 decision over the Patriots' Taylor Pulley.

The Suttons, Willman-Govan and Reaves-Gina Wall each claimed a doubles point for Wayne Christian.

"Compared to last year at this time, they have improved tremendously due to playing year round and that's what it takes to go to the next level," said coach Willman.

Willman's expectations have grown for this season, but she -- along with co-coach Lisa Sutton -- had some concerns heading into this fall. Two players opted not to return and pursue other interests, leaving the Eagles with just one substitute player.

All seven helped Wayne Christian sweep the Carolina Christian Conference regular-season and tournament championships in 2008. The Eagles tied Faith Christian-Rocky Mount for fifth overall in the season-ending N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A state tournament.

"We didn't expect to lose those two players," said Willman. "With our team being so small and with no backup, I questioned how deep our team is and they've come through so far. I think we can have a really good season."

Wayne Christian is 2-0 against CCC opposition this season.

Willman hopes the team successfully defends its CCC regular-season and tournament crowns. And she hopes it can surpass last year's performance at the NCISAA Championships.

"Last year, I would pull some of our top players out for doubles if we had won the match in singles," said Willman. "When we got to states, I realized that might have been a mistake. I want them to build on team chemistry a little more (this season)."

The Eagles return to action Tuesday at CCC foe Cape Fear Christian.