Eastern Wayne tennis team comes up winners
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 17, 2004 1:56 PM
Veteran Eastern Wayne girls tennis coach Nancy Dawson expected her returning starters to determine the final outcome Monday afternoon against South Central.
A pair of underclassmen surprised her instead.
While the top-seeded doubles team of Anna Weeks-Brandi Butts endured a mid-match collapse, teammates Ashley Smith and Sammy Abrahamson -- a first-year duo -- seized momentum at No. 3 doubles. The tandem survived a late-match scare and prevailed 8-4 against the Falcons' Tiffany Wood-Danielle Sutton.
The victory enabled the Warriors to escape 6-3 in the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference and season-opening match for both teams. Eastern Wayne travels to Washington on Wednesday. South Central attempts to end a 17-match skid against ECC opposition the same afternoon against Southern Wayne.
Once the singles matches had been completed, Dawson encouraged Weeks-Butts to play strong because they needed the doubles point to secure the match. The duo raced to a 4-1 lead and then hit a tailspin that left Dawson scrambling for strategy during each court change.
The Falcons' Jolisia Smith- Lauren Lee earned two break points on serve and held their own to forge a 4-4 tie. The teams battled through five deuce points before an unforced error gave Smith-Lee a 5-4 advantage heading into the next court change.
Dawson maintained her composure at the fence while chatting with Weeks and Butts. As they headed to the far court, Dawson walked down to court No. 3 where Smith-Abrahamson had gained control against Wood-Sutton.
The Warriors led 7-2 before the Falcons pulled within 7-4. Sutton served the next game and hit a couple of unforced errors as Smith-Abrahamson triumphed 8-4.
"That was a team that was literally put together. One of our players is not with us and that really hurt because they had been practicing the entire time together," Dawson said. "I thought Ashley did a terrific job ... as a freshman ... coming through in that situation."
The two doubles matches were a microcosm of the entire three-hour, 25-minute battle. The Warriors experienced difficulty closing out the big points, which would have led to a game, set or concluded the match.
Abrahamson, the No. 6 seed, dominated the opening set against Wood and prevailed 6-3. Wood forced a third-set tiebreaker with a 6-1 victory. Abrahamson, a junior, claimed the 12-point tiebreaker 7-5 and gave the Warriors a 4-2 advantage in singles.
Butts squandered four-point leads in first- and third-set tiebreaker action against Smith. Smith, a freshman with solid groundstrokes, seized a 7-6 (3), 2-6, 7-3 victory.
"We've got to work and we've got to be able to put those points away," Dawson said. "That needs to be done. We can't play timid. We have to go after the ball and take charge."
Weeks cruised 6-2, 6-1 at the No. 1 slot against Lee. Smith, the Warriors' freshman, rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the opening set to defeat Summers 6-4, 6-1. Tricia Chatman, a sophomore, rallied from 5-2 in the first set to hand Wood a 7-5, 6-1 setback.
South Central grabbed wins at Nos. 3 and 5 singles, and No. 2 doubles.
"They have played all summer and they surprised me the first day of practice," said second-year Falcons coach Amy Walters. "I think now they know what to expect because they didn't know what to expect last year. Some of them had not played competitively.
"They were more confident (today)."
Eastern Wayne shut out South Central twice last season and leads the conference series 3-0.
However, this marathon might have been a wake-up call for the Warriors. Dawson saw some good things, but she quickly added the team needs to improve daily.
"This team (South Central) is very much improved over what they were last year," Dawson said. "If the rest of the league is very much improved, we've got a lot of work to do."
"I see a lot of potential. It depends on what they decide to do with their potential."
Eastern Wayne 6, South Central 3
Singles -- No. 1 Anna Weeks (EW) d. Lauren Lee 6-2, 6-1; No. 2 Ashley Smith (EW) d. Ashley Summers 6-4, 6-1; No. 3 Jolisia Smith (SC) d. Brandi Butts 7-6 (3), 2-6, 7-3; No. 4 Tricia Chatman (EW) d. Tiffany Wood 7-5, 6-1; No. 5 Ayana Ishida (SC) d. Lauren Bynum 6-4, 6-1; No. 6 Sammy Abrahamson (EW) d. Danielle Sutton 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
Doubles -- No. 1 Weeks-Butts (EW) d. Lee-Smith 8-6; No. 2 Ishida-Summers (SC) d. Chatman-Bynum 8-5; No. 3 Smith-Abrahamson (EW) d. Wood-Sutton 8-4.
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