09/30/04 — Prep tennis -- Golden Falcons shut out Patriots

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Prep tennis -- Golden Falcons shut out Patriots

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 30, 2004 1:58 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Road-weary Charles B. Aycock christened its new tennis courts in convincing fashion and Raychel Batts gained revenge Wednesday afternoon against West Carteret.

The Golden Falcons, playing at home for the first time this season, swept the singles matches and handed the Patriots a 6-0 defeat. Aycock remained unbeaten in 10 Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference outings and climbed to 14-1 overall.

After nearly two months of traveling, Aycock's players wasted little time breaking in their new courts. Five players needed less than 90 minutes to claim their singles match and hand the Patriots their third defeat in ECC play.

Patricia Owen

News-Argus/Dennis Hill

Patricia Owen

The victory extended the program's phenonemal 26-year conference-match win streak to 278.

"It's great to be back on our home courts and I can't do anything but praise our girls because it's been a tough environment to have to travel every single day to practice or to play your matches," veteran Golden Falcons coach Luke Vail said. "Everybody has dealt with it (well). This is the kind of match we needed at this point -- a real battle out on the court against somebody that would challenge us."

Batts relished her rematch with Corrine Langston, who dealt Batts her only loss of the season. The Aycock sophomore broke Langston's serve three times in the opening set and cruised to a 5-0 lead.

Batts matched Langston ground stroke for ground stroke and kept her deep in the second half of the court with consistent baseline shots. The scheme prevented Langston from moving to the net and taking balls out of the air early.

"I kept her moving and hit the middle of the court," Batts said. "I didn't want to give her any short balls because she's got a good approach shot. I wanted to keep her deep and try to get her to make mistakes."

Langston finally broke Batts' serve at 5-1, but Batts bounced back to claim the set 6-1. However, she lost her focus early in the second set and fell victim to the same unforced errors like she hit in their previous match.

Langston (12-1) capitalized and seized a 2-0 lead.

Batts walked to the fence, turned toward the softball and adjusted the strings on her racquet. She quietly talked to herself in an attempt to re-focus on the task at hand.

"I think I lost my focus a little bit ... relaxed because I won the first set so easily," Batts said. "I shouldn't do that. I knew she was trying to slow down my momentum and told myself not to give her any points, keep the ball in and let her make the mistake."

Batts (14-1) took the next six games and the match 6-1, 6-2.

Meanwhile, three of Batts' teammates rallied from first-set deficits en route to straight-set victories.

Second-seeded Leslie Sasser trailed 3-2 in the opening set against left-hander Maren Boelling. The two exchanged heated discussions throughout the match on close line calls, but Sasser played through and stopped Boelling 6-3, 6-4.

Third-seeded Carlyn Claiborne struggled early in nearly every phase of her game before winning three straight games in the middle of the first set. Claiborne, one of two juniors in the starting lineup, eventually dumped Courtney Whisler 7-5, 6-2.

Fourth-seeded Nicole Taylor fell behind 4-3 in the first set against the Pats' Kelly Register. Taylor rattled off three straight wins and kept a one-game lead throughout the second set in a 6-4, 6-4 win.

Sasser and Claiborne each improved to 15-0, while Taylor climbed to 11-3.

"Leslie and Carlyn had to fight for theirs and they fought really well," Vail said. "I thought Nicole kept her patience, played very consistent and just worked her way through one point at a time. She's not used to playing catch up. It was a good win for her."

Patricia Owen, the fifth seed, blitzed Gigi Hamdan 6-0, 6-0. Teammate Laine Purcell, the sixth seed, knocked off Joanna Dodge 6-3, 3-6, 7-2.

The teams did not play doubles.

Vail said the match had a little bit of a playoff atmosphere and knew that West Carteret, always a well-prepared team, would give Aycock its best effort. He wasn't disappointed and neither was Patriots coach Craig McClanahan, who said his team fought hard at every seed.

"Today, after the first set, I thought we got sharper and sharper in the second set," Vail said. "It was good to see us win all five singles and take care of business.

"Everybody always gives Aycock their best shot."

C.B. Aycock 6, West Carteret 0

Singles -- No. 1 Raychel Batts (CBA) d. Corrine Langston 6-1, 6-2; No. 2 Leslie Sasser (CBA) d. Maren Boelling 6-3, 6-4; No. 3 Carlyn Claiborne (CBA) d. Courtney Whisler 7-5, 6-2; No. 4 Nicole Taylor (CBA) d. Kelly Register 6-4, 6-4; No. 5 Patricia Owen (CBA) d. Gigi Hamdan 6-0, 6-0; No. 6 Laine Purcell (CBA) d. Joanna Dodge 6-3, 3-6, 7-2.

Doubles -- Not contested.