05/28/04 — Greene Central tennis advances to finals

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Greene Central tennis advances to finals

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 28, 2004 1:55 PM

EDENTON -- Hunger and desire.

Those two characteristics hadn't played a significant role during Greene Central's previous three playoff matches in recent weeks. However, the two inner emotions stirred within two individuals' souls and surfaced at the right time Thursday afternoon against John A. Holmes.

Andrew Hulbert

News-Argus/Dennis Hill

Andrew Hulbert

Those feelings triggered crucial third-set tiebreaker wins for junior Chris Hardy and senior Brian Sugg in their respective singles matches. The duo helped the Rams trump the Aces 9-0 and seize their third consecutive eastern regional championship in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2-A dual-team tennis playoffs.

Greene Central (25-0) earned its 23rd shutout of the season and faces the western regional champion Charlotte Catholic for the state title Saturday morning at the Burlington Tennis Center. Singles play is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

Holmes concluded the year 15-2.

"I'm very pleased with the win, especially against a high-quality team. Edenton always has a strong program, tough team (and) good athletes," Rams coach Brad Sauls said. "You know that if you don't come out here and play your best, you could easily go home as losers.

"We came out and played pretty well, especially at the beginning of our matches."

Every Ram gained the early advantage in the opening set, but Hardy and Sugg struggled to keep momentum.

Hardy, the No. 4 seed, clung to a 5-4 lead against freshman Michael Potocki. The two dueled for three deuce points during the final game of the first set, which Hardy won 6-4.

Potocki fell behind 1-0 in the second set, but triumphed in the next six games to force the 12-point, third-set tiebreaker. Potocki paced the court and bounced a ball with a racquet while Hardy cooled down in the shade during the break.

Hardy capitalized on a double fault and ripped a forehand passing shot to jump ahead 2-0 in the tiebreaker. Potocki tied the set at 2-2 before Hardy won three of the next four points.

The players traded points until Hardy served an ace to keep a two-point lead at 6-4. Potocki hit an unforced error, his third of the set, and Hardy escaped 7-4.

"When they came off the court between the second and third set, they were like 'I really got lulled into playing bad tennis and I've got to get back to my game, which is being aggressive and taking the initiative'," Sauls said. "They played their best tennis in the tiebreakers and I was very happy with that. That makes me feel pretty comfortable going into Saturday because we might see some tiebreakers.

"Who knows?"

Sugg, once-beaten in 25 outings this season, trailed 4-3 in the first set against Collins Small. Sugg, one of three seniors in the starting lineup, took the final three games and the set 6-4.

Small, a freshman, maintained a one-game advantage in the second set and profited from numerous unforced errors by Sugg. Like Potocki, Small stayed on the hot court while Sugg refilled his water bottle and found some much-needed shade during their break.

"Collins didn't want a break," Holmes coach Allan Hornthal said. "He wanted to go right in (to the tiebreak). So did Michael. I think all the players will agree that they hate these third-set tiebreakers, except maybe on a hot day when you don't have to go a full third set."

Sugg bolted to a 5-0 lead in the tiebreaker. Small closed the gap to 6-2 before an unforced error allowed Sugg to pull out the win and keep the Rams' shutout string intact.

"Collins played a couple of loose points to start with and got down," Hornthal said. "If you get down a mini break in a tiebreaker, it can be devastating.

"I think they'll learn from the experience."

While Sugg and Grant needed third-set tiebreakers, their teammates rolled in other matches. Top-seeded Andrew Hulbert (25-0) blitzed George Parrish 6-0, 6-1 while doubles mate Brent Darden blanked Dan Parrish 6-0, 6-0.

Lin Hall picked up his team-leading 32nd singles win with a 6-2, 6-3 decision against Daniel Phillips, the Aces' lone senior. Rams senior Dustin Grant played superb tennis in a 6-0, 6-1 conquest of sophomore Alex Boehling.

"Dustin played his best match of the year," Sauls said. "I've never seen him be so consistently aggressive. He hit winners everywhere and made very few unforced errors.

"He went out with the game plan that he was going to attack the boy's backhand. He took the short ball off of that and ripped the ball. He played great and hopefully that will give him a lot of confidence going into Saturday."

Greene Central swept the doubles.

Hulbert-Darden, fresh off their first-ever state championship, shut out Phillips-Dan Parrish 10-0. Hall-Hardy cruised past Boehling-George Parrish 10-2, while Grant-Sugg upended Potocki-Small 10-4.

The Rams remained unbeaten in four postseason meetings against the Aces and beat an eastern playoff team for the 12th consecutive time. Since 2000, Greene Central is 15-2 against eastern teams.

"This is very rewarding," Sauls said. "I'm looking forward to Saturday."

2004 N.C. High School

Athletic Association Class 2-A

Dual-Team playoffs

Eastern championship

(at John A. Holmes HS)

Greene Central 9,

John A. Holmes 0

Singles -- No. 1 Andrew Hulbert (GC) d. George Parrish 6-0, 6-1; No. 2 Brent Darden (GC) d. Dan Parrish 6-0, 6-0; No. 3 Lin Hall (GC) d. Daniel Phillips 6-2, 6-3; No. 4 Chris Hardy (GC) d. Michael Potocki 6-4, 1-6, 7-4; No. 5 Dustin Grant (GC) d. Alex Boehling 6-0, 6-1; No. 6 Brian Sugg (GC) d. Collins Small 6-4, 4-6, 7-2.

Doubles -- No. 1 Hulbert-Darden (GC) d. Phillips-D. Parrish 10-0; No. 2 Hall-Hardy (GC) d. Boehling-G. Parrish 10-2; No. 3 Grant-Sugg (GC) d. Potocki-Small 10-4.

Spring Creek falls

in regional finals

DURHAM -- Cliff Wilson emerged the lone singles winner as Spring Creek fell 5-1 to Durham School of the Arts in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A eastern regional dual-team tennis championship Thursday afternoon.

The defeat was the secondstraight regional finals loss for the Gators -- and all to Durham School of the Arts.

"We knew the deck was stacked against us coming in," said Gators coach Robert Jones. "But we're rpoud to be the regional runner-ups. for the second year ... next year we'll try again."

2004 N.C. High School

Athletic Association Class 1-A

Dual-Team playoffs

Eastern championship

(at Durham School of the Arts)

DSA5, Spring Creek 1

Singles -- No. 1 Shawn Kwarta (DSA)d. Will Daniel 6-0, 6-0. No. 2 Cliff Wilson (SC)d. unknown by unreported score; No. 3 David Clarke (DSA)d. Grey Wilson 6-4, 6-3. No. 4 Wes Hare (DSA)d. Ricky Galloway 6-2, 4-6, 7-4; No. 5 Russell Schmitz (DSA)d. Justin Smith 6-0, 6-0; No. 6 Daniel Kamyia (DSA)d. Brandpon Strickland 6-1, 6-1.

Doubles -- No. 1 Hulbert-Darden (GC) d. Phillips-D. Parrish 10-0; No. 2 Hall-Hardy (GC) d. Boehling-G. Parrish 10-2; No. 3 Grant-Sugg (GC) d. Potocki-Small 10-4.