10/15/04 — Warriors put five into regional tennis field; Goldsboro sends pair; Aycock sends four

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Warriors put five into regional tennis field; Goldsboro sends pair; Aycock sends four

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 15, 2004 1:57 PM

Sweat rolling down her cheeks, Lauren Bynum walked off the Herman Park courts and headed over to Eastern Wayne head tennis coach Nancy Dawson.

"I refuse to lose again," Bynum said.

She didn't.

Jessica Faison

News-Argus/Kaye Nesbit

Goldsboro High's Jessica Faison teamed with Quionna Bryant to earn a regional tournament berth.

The Warrior freshman rallied from a three-game deficit to defeat Kinston's Katie Keith 9-7 and clinch a spot in next week's N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A eastern regionals at Barton College in Wilson. Bynum qualified in singles along with teammates Anna Weeks and Brandi Butts; and the doubles of Ashley Smith-Morgan Pritchett.

Bynum tumbled into the losers' bracket with a 6-0, 6-1 loss against second-seeded Raychel Batts of Charles B. Aycock. Bynum fell behind Keith 3-0 in their consolation match, but slowly clawed her way back into contention with consistent ground strokes.

"I just told her that she had to play her game," Dawson said. "That's all there was to it. I told her to believe in herself."

Keith began making costly unforced errors and Dawson stayed steady as she pulled within 6-5. She forged ahead 7-6 before Keith took an 8-7 lead on the final court change.

Again, Bynum refused to quit.

Using a strong two-handed forehand, Bynum pounded out ground stroke after ground stroke against Keith. The two traded volleys throughout the final game, which Bynum won without losing a point.

"She showed a little maturity and is a better player than what she was at the beginning (of the season)," Dawson said. "She's got a lot of positive things going for her, but I think the maturity brought her through.

"Theoretically, she shouldn't have won that match. She's a number four player playing a number two player."

Dawson said the Warriors exceeded her expectations. She didn't anticipate qualifying five players for the regionals, but thought at least three could get through depending on the draw.

Weeks, seeded No. 4 in the 16-player singles bracket, breezed past Southern Wayne's Tara Tillman 6-0, 6-0 in the opening round. She seized her first-ever trip to the regionals with a hard-fought 7-5, 7-5 victory against Keith.

"She played like a senior and brought everything together (today)," Dawson said of Weeks. "I hope she can bring it together when we play again. I'm so proud of her.

"She has worked hard."

Butts finished the day 2-2 and earned the conference's final singles berth when Keith forfeited. Smith-Pritchett grabbed a regional spot with an 8-4 decision against Goldsboro's tandem of Jessica Faison-Quionna Bryant in consolation-round play.

Down to their last chance, Faison-Bryant advanced to the regionals with a convincing 8-0 victory against Aycock's Laine Purcell-Hadley Peacock. They're the first Goldsboro doubles team to reach the regional level since the early 1990s when Daniela Marx and Lee Worrell played for the Cougars.

However, teammates Sonji King-Honesty Floyd and Ja'Tericka McClary-Nickie Garner each lost opening-round matches in doubles. King-Floyd fell to Purcell-Peacock, while McClary-Garner lost against Washington's Randall Peck-Rachel Perkinson. Peck-Perkinson was the No. 3 seed.

The Golden Falcons' Batts dropped only one game in four sets and climbed to 21-1 overall. Teammate Nicole Taylor worked through the losers' bracket and grabbed a regional berth with an 8-3 win against