05/06/04 — Tennis -- GC caps a dominant regular season

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Tennis -- GC caps a dominant regular season

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 6, 2004 1:57 PM

SNOW HILL -- Aggressive and intense from the opening serve, Lin Hall collected the prize he had been waiting for all season Wednesday afternoon.

The Greene Central junior repeated as the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference boys singles tennis champion. Nearly an hour later, the hard-hitting left-hander successfully defended his Carolina 1-A/EPC overall title.

"I've really looked forward to this because individuals is one of my favorite parts of the season," Hall said. "You get to see all kinds of different competition and I get a chance to see how much I have improved."

Neither teammate Chris Hardy nor Rosewood junior Wesley Lovelady would argue that Hall is one of the top singles players in the nine-team conference.

Hardy battled Hall forehand for forehand and point for point before succumbing 6-3, 6-3 in the EPC title match. Hall captured his 24th victory of the season without a loss and handed Hardy his first defeat in 24 outings.

Then came Lovelady's turn.

Hall hadn't seen Lovelady play too many matches, but did take a little time to watch him during the two-day tournament.

"He can compete really well," Hall said.

Lovelady took the opening game of each set against Hall. However, Hall tracked down ball after ball and kept it in play consistently. He reeled off six straight wins in each set and prevailed 6-1, 6-1.

Hall served eight aces in the straight-set victory and earned three service break points against Lovelady in the first set. Hall followed the same pattern in the second set and wrapped up the match with a short drop shot and a passing shot on Lovelady's second serve.

"It was a great match," Hall said. "He's a great player. I think I have showed improvement since the beginning of the season. I consider this tournament to be a good learning experience."

Lovelady commented he'd like to hit with the Greene Central players every day.

Veteran Rosewood coach Bert Perkins added that Lovelady doesn't see the "inner" competition between his teammates like Hall does on a daily basis.

"Every day those guys come out and play at a high level, and Wes doesn't get to see that," Perkins said.

Hall helped the Rams repeat as the EPC tournament champion with a whopping 32 points. The top-seeded doubles of Andrew Hulbert-Brent Darden remained perfect in 24 matches with a 6-1, 6-1 conquest of teammates Dustin Grant-Brian Sugg in the EPC title tilt.

Hulbert-Darden followed that up with a 6-1, 6-0 decision against Spring Creek's sibling duo of Cliff and Grey Wilson in the C/EPC final. It was a rematch of last year's championship won by Hulbert-Darden.

The EPC's final two eastern regional berths were determined as well.

Tarboro's Brian Mattern, the No. 3 seed in the singles bracket, worked his way through the consolation rounds. He defeated county rival Derek Turner of SouthWest Edgecombe 6-1, 6-0 and then knocked off teammate Brian Brittain 6-2, 6-1 for the right to participate in next week's regional at South Brunswick.

North Lenoir's doubles of Gerry Floyd-Ryan Ipock also toiled their way through the consolation bracket. They eliminated North Pitt's Kajuan Williams-David Fichus 6-3, 6-4 and then bounced Tarboro's Jonathan Pearce-Chris Taylor 7-5, 6-1.

The duo lost its opening set to SouthWest's Tyler Cannon-Jackson Perry 6-1 in the regional qualifying match. Floyd-Ipock seized the second set 6-4 and rallied for a 7-6 (3) win in the decisive third set.

SouthWest and North Lenoir tied for second overall in the EPC points race with seven points apiece. Tarboro had four, while North Pitt scored one.

Greene Central puts its 21-0 record on the line next Tuesday against the Northern Carolina No. 3 representative in the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team playoffs. North Lenoir (13-6) entertains the Mid-State runner-up.

Both matches will be contested at the Snow Hill Tennis Complex.