09/01/04 — Warriors fight past young Saints

View Archive

Warriors fight past young Saints

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 1, 2004 1:56 PM

Confidence and experience.

Those two factors certainly contributed to Eastern Wayne's 9-0 conquest of county rival Southern Wayne on Tuesday afternoon at the Wayne Community College courts. The Warriors' four returning starters controlled their respective singles matches and helped deny the Saints their first victory in six outings this season.

Eastern Wayne (3-3) improved to 3-2 against Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference opposition. It entertains another county rival, Charles B. Aycock, at home Thursday afternoon.

The Saints (0-5 ECC) are the guests of D.H. Conley this afternoon.

"Everybody is going to have more experience than we are," veteran Southern Wayne coach Brad Matthews said. "I'm tickled to death with the way we played today."

Both Matthews and Warriors coach Nancy Dawson agreed that the final scores didn't reflect the overall competitiveness in each match. Five of six Eastern Wayne players breezed to 3-0 leads in the opening set, but the points didn't come easy. The Saints kept the ball in play and tried to force the more experienced Warriors into unforced errors.

Leslie Barrow, at No. 6, seemed to have that early-match strategy working well against Eastern Wayne junior Sami Abrahamson. Barrow claimed two of the first three games as Abrahamson battled with a nagging wrist injury that occurred in Monday's practice.

Dawson wrapped Abrahamson's wrist during a court change. The tape helped tighten Abrahamson's grip and she began making less unforced errors. Barrow couldn't adjust and lost eight consecutive games as Abrahamson rallied for a 6-2, 6-1 win.

"She said the support (tape) felt great," Dawson said. "That got her mind off her wrist and onto the ball. She started playing."

Abrahamson's straight-set triumph secured the overall match for the Warriors, who shut out an ECC foe for the third time this season.

Junior Brandi Butts started the afternoon with a 6-0, 6-0 decision against the Saints' Emily Taylor at No. 3. Less than 10 minutes later, teammates Ashley Smith and Tricia Chatman each posted a singles win to give the Warriors a 3-0 advantage overall.

Lauren Bynum, the Warriors' No. 5 seed, seized nine consecutive games against Kasey Powell. Bynum stumbled just once in the second set and cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 win.

"Eastern Wayne really impressed me. They're strong all the way through -- one through six," Matthews said. "They're young, too, and in a couple of years they're going to be real strong."

Once Abrahamson completed her match, Dawson and Matthews focused on court No. 1. The Warriors' Anna Weeks took advantage of Beth Brown's early-match nerves and grabbed the opening set 6-2.

However, Brown gained confidence and began matching Weeks groundstroke for groundstroke in the second set. Brown eliminated some unforced errors and coerced Weeks into hitting a few winners of her own.

Brown broke Weeks' serve at 5-2 and gained a 30-15 advantage in the next game. But Weeks bounced back to take the next three points and the match 6-2, 6-2.

"That score is not at all indicative of the balls they played," Dawson said. "Anna is just consistent, is going to run it down and put it back in your face. She (Brown) was hitting more balls ... three, four, five at a time ... instead of hitting unforced errors.

"She's a decent player. Maturity will help her, and that's Anna's strength since she's a senior. She's gone from the bottom of the lineup to the top and has earned every position along the way."

The Warriors needed just 62 minutes to determine the overall outcome on a humid, partly-sunny afternoon.

"We're always respectful of them because they've given us some close scares (over the years)," Dawson said. "I expect them to be a much different team when we come back (to them) the second time around. They'll have experience and they'll be ready."

Eastern Wayne 9,

Southern Wayne 0

Singles -- No. 1 Anna Weeks (EW) d. Beth Brown 6-2, 6-2; No. 2 Ashley Smith (EW) d. Sara Tillman 6-2, 6-0; No. 3 Brandi Butts (EW) d. Emily Taylor 6-0, 6-0; No. 4 Tricia Chatman (EW) d. Whitli Thornton 6-0, 6-1; No. 5 Lauren Bynum (EW) d. Kasey Powell 6-0, 6-1; No. 6 Sami Abrahamson (EW) d. Leslie Barrow 6-2, 6-1.

Doubles -- No. 1 Weeks-Butts (EW) d. Brown-Taylor 8-1; No. 2 Chatman-Bynum (EW) d. Thornton-Barrow 8-0; No. 3 Smith-Abrahamson (EW) d. Lauren Harrell-Christy Westbrook 8-2.