05/12/04 — Tennis -- GC moves ahead

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Tennis -- GC moves ahead

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 12, 2004 2:02 PM

SNOW HILL -- After shutting out 19 of 21 opponents in the regular season, the Greene Central boys' tennis team looked forward to playing new teams and seeing new faces in the dual-team playoffs.

Although Tuesday's match ended much like their regular-season results, the Rams got a good challenge from a young and energetic Warren County team. They needed just 61 minutes to complete all six singles matches and easily prevailed 9-0 on the Snow Hill Tennis Complex courts.

Greene Central (22-0) faces Pittsboro Northwood at home next Tuesday in a second-round N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2-A playoff match.

"Warren County's team is pretty solid all the way down," veteran Rams coach Brad Sauls said. "There are even players one through six down and that makes it tough when you're playing our four, five and six.

"That's where we had some pretty good matches. They made our guys hit a lot of balls and that's what we need. It was really good for us."

The youth-ladened Eagles returned their top-seeded player, junior Andrew Marlin. But they also had three freshmen and one sophomore among the top six.

Warren County (12-8) played competitive on every point and refused to back down against the Rams. That aggressive attitude pleased head coach Tom Traylor, who last paid a visit to Snow Hill in 2002.

"I was pleased with the way my team competed -- a young team against a veteran team," Traylor said. "We hung in there and had good points. They are definitely a super team and you have to give them all the credit.

"But some of the games were really close. In the first game at number one (singles), Andrew (Marlin) was up 40-love and just couldn't hold onto it. In some of the serving games, he was up."

However, Marlin couldn't prevail on the key points. The Rams' Andrew Hulbert, one of three seniors in the lineup, remained unbeaten in 21 matches with a 6-0, 6-0 decision.

Doubles mate Brent Darden improved to 22-0 with a 6-0, 6-0 rout against Zach Bender at the No. 2 slot. Lin Hall picked up his 26th win, losing just one game against Thomas Seaman at No. 3.

Chris Hardy triumphed 6-1, 6-2 at the No. 4 spot. Teammates Dustin Grant (No. 5) and Brian Sugg (No. 6) each earned a 6-1, 6-0 win.

The Rams swept the doubles. Hulbert-Darden stayed unbeaten in 26 matches. Hall-Hardy improved to 22-0, while Grant-Sugg is now 22-1.

"You give them the credit for being mentally tough," Traylor said. "They made those tough shots when it counts. That's what Greene Central is all about.

"They're in their best form and I hope they can win the state championship from a small, rural town like us."

Warren County, seeded third from the Northern Carolina Conference, concluded its season 12-8. The Eagles were making their third straight trip to the playoffs.

The Rams eliminated an NCC team from the postseason for third time since 2000 and posted their eighth consecutive shutout overall this season. Greene Central hasn't yielded a team point since its April 6 home match against Southern Nash.

"I thought they played pretty well," said Sauls, who is eagerly anticipating the Northwood match. "I still see things that we need to improve on. Shot selection is the main thing I want to work on in our next practice, picking the right shot to hit at the right time.

"Other than that, they were really intense and took their matches seriously. They played very solid tennis. I'm happy."

2004 N.C. High School

Athletic Association Class 2-A

Dual-Team Playoffs

First round

(at Snow Hill Tennis Complex)

Greene Central 9, Warren County 0

Singles -- No. 1 Andrew Hulbert (GC) d. Andrew Marlin 6-0, 6-0; No. 2 Brent Darden (GC) d. Zach Bender 6-0, 6-0; No. 3 Lin Hall (GC) d. Thomas Seaman 6-0, 6-1; No. 4 Chris Hardy (GC) d. Matt Short 6-1, 6-2; No. 5 Dustin Grant (GC) d. Zach Fields 6-1, 6-0; No. 6 Brian Sugg (GC) d. Allen Robertson 6-1, 6-0.

Doubles -- No. 1 Hulbert-Darden (GC) d. Marlin-Keishawn Mayes 10-2; No. 2 Hall-Hardy (GC) d. Bender-Seaman 10-2; No. 3 Grant-Sugg (GC) d. Short-Fields 10-1.