05/12/04 — Tennis -- Hawks fall in marathon match

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Tennis -- Hawks fall in marathon match

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

SNOW HILL -- "Coach, do you mind turning off the lights?"

Snow Hill Tennis Complex director Donald Clark posed that question to North Lenoir coach Scott Smith as the sun slowly set behind the courts Tuesday evening. Smith nodded "yes" and looked at his watch.

He couldn't give the first guess as to when the match would end.

The Hawks and Cedar Ridge needed 2 1/2 hours to decide six singles matches, including No. 1 singles, which began extremely late. It took another two hours to determine the doubles, which the Wolves almost swept en route to a 5-4 victory in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2-A dual-team playoffs.

"I'm mighty pleased with their effort," Smith said.

North Lenoir (13-8) came close to winning its first postseason match since 2000 when it competed on the 3-A level. A third-set tiebreaker factored into one singles match and favored the Wolves. Two other matches hinged on crucial service games where Cedar Ridge eventually emerged victorious.

The Wolves, a second-year team with just one senior, claimed the program's first-ever postseason win. They continue play next Tuesday against either Southern Vance or St. Paul's.

"We were down in some matches early in singles and they came back, so that was really good," second-year Cedar Ridge coach Alan Whitaker said. "Luca (Tolan) had quite a comeback. Our number two player played about the best match I've seen him play this year.

"We're usually strong in doubles and it showed (today)."

Tolan dropped 10 of the first 11 games against Hawks senior Billy Kirk at No. 3 singles. He battled back to claim the second set 7-5 and then won the 12-point, third-set tiebreaker 7-3.

Andy Zoergle, at No. 2, trailed Jared O'Dell in each set. But O'Dell couldn't keep the momentum as Zoergle pulled out a 6-4, 6-3 win.

Misfortune befell fellow Hawk Paul Eubanks who lost three of his five games, including two service breaks, against Jake Wolfe at No. 4 singles. Wolfe rallied from a 4-3 deficit in the second set to win 6-4, 7-5.

"It was just one of the things," Smith said. "You can flip a coin and the next day Paul might win and Billy might win. There are a lot of things coming up the end of the school year and the seniors do have a lot on their plate.

"I hate for them to lose their last team match. They've got a couple more (matches) left in them for Friday at regionals."

The Hawks' Alex Mills tied the overall match at 3-3 with a straight-set win at No. 1 singles against unseeded Jesse Whitaker. Whitaker replaced David Bell, the Wolves' top-seeded player, who arrived late after taking a required AP exam.

Cedar Ridge (10-6) dominated the doubles.

Bell-Zoergle raced to a 4-0 lead at No. 1 and handed Mills-O'Dell a 10-3 loss. Wolfe-King took four of the first games at No. 2 and upended Kirk-Eubanks 10-6.

North Lenoir's Gerry Floyd-Ryan Ipock finished the marathon with a 10-7 decision against Tolan-Whitaker.

"They're young with good players," Smith said of Cedar Ridge. "You can tell they've been coached well and they play well together, communicate well. It was a good, all-around job by their team."

2004 N.C. High School

Athletic Association Class 2-A

Dual-Team Playoffs

First round

(at Snow Hill Tennis Complex)

Cedar Ridge 5, North Lenoir 4

Singles -- No. 1 Alex Mills (NL) d. Jesse Whitaker 6-1, 6-3; No. 2 Andy Zoergle (CR) d. Jared O'Dell 6-4, 6-3; No. 3 Luca Tolan (CR) d. Billy Kirk 0-6, 7-5, 7-3; No. 4 Jake Wolfe (CR) d. Paul Eubanks 6-4, 7-5; No. 5 Gerry Floyd (NL) d. Will King 6-4, 6-1; No. 6 Ryan Ipock (NL) d. Joel Inman 6-3, 6-3.

Doubles -- No. 1 Zoergle-David Bell (CR) d. Mills-O'Dell 10-3; No. 2 Wolfe-King (CR) d. Kirk-Eubanks 10-6; No. 3 Floyd-Ipock (NL) d. Tolan-Whitaker 10-7.