11/03/04 — Aycock pops Fike, returns to Final Four

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Aycock pops Fike, returns to Final Four

By David Williams
Published in Sports on November 3, 2004 1:55 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Another step. Another hurdle.

Charles B. Aycock's tennis team knew there would be a lot of phases to winning the Class 3-A state dual-team tennis title. And just as they expected, each phase gets harder to overcome.

The Golden Falcons won a rough singles duel 4-2 over visiting Wilson Fike, then got their top-seeded doubles team to deliver the knockout blow as Aycock bested Fike 5-1 at the John Neal Walker Tennis Center Tuesday to advance to the Eastern 3-A finals. The opponent will be East Chapel Hill, a familiar foe in playoff competition for Aycock. The Wildcats knocked off Eden Morehead 6-0 to advance.

"The girls came out focused and ready to play," said Aycock coach Luke Vail. "The entire team played hard and gave a very determined effort."

Singles proved to be a tough set of matches for both teams. Raychel Batts and Leslie Sasser were relatively easy winners at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, with Batts taking down Sarah Farris 6-3, 6-0 and Sasser beating Sarah Prince in a 6-0, 6-0 shutout. Carlyn Claiborne fought back from a 3-0 first-set deficit to Fike's Kristia Cedeno to win the first set 6-4, then polished off Cedeno with a 6-1 second set.

Aycock lost it's first playoff point of the postseason at No. 4 in a gritty three-set affair. Nicole Taylor won the first set 6-1 against Lara Coley, but the Golden Demon came back to push the second set into a tiebreaker. Coley won the tiebreaker 7-2 to even the series, then gutted out a slugfest third set to win 7-5.

"Their match could have gone either way," said Vail.

At No. 5, Laine Purcell survived another hard-fought, three-set match. Fike's Blair Wortham lost the opening set 6-4, but rallied to put the second set into a tiebreaker. Purcell came through in the tiebreak 7-1 to win the set 7-6 and the match.

"Laine won a really big match at number five," said Vail. "She played very consistent tennis on the big points."

Sallie Wallace picked up a point for Fike at No. 6, topping Hadley Peacock 6-3, 6-1.

Up 4-2, Aycock turned to it's dominating doubles team of Sasser and Claiborne, who advanced to the state individual tournament's quarterfinals last weekend. The Falcon duo grabbed a big early lead and rode it out to eliminate Fike with a 10-3 doubles win over Prince and Cedeno.

"Leslie and Carlyn came out very aggressive and seized control of their doubles match early," said Vail, "which shifted the momentum our way and clinched the match."

Now Aycock must face one of the biggest hurdles in the playoffs -- East Chapel Hill. The Falcons have faced off against the Wildcats four times since Aycock won the state 3-A title in 1997. All four occasions were in the Class 3-A eastern finals -- and Aycock has lost all four matches. East Chapel Hill beat Aycock 5-4 in 2000 and claimed a 5-0 win two years ago.

"Today was a very pleasing win because it puts us back in the final four, which was one of our goals at the beginning of the season," said Vail. "We've got our hands full, but we know we have an opportunity to play for a state championship if we win our next match. That's all you can ask for. "

2004 N.C. High School

Athletic Association Class 2-A

Dual-Team Playoffs

(at John Neal Walker Tennis Complex,

Mount Olive College)

Singles -- No. 1 Raychel Batts (CBA) d. Sarah Farris 6-3, 6-0. No. 2 Leslie Sasser (CBA) d. Sarah Prince 6-0, 6-0. No. 3 Carlyn Claiborne (CBA) d. Kristia Cedeno 6-4, 6-1. No. 4 Lara Coley (F) d. Nicole Taylor 1-6, 7-6(7-2), 7-5. No. 5 Laine Purcell (CBA) d. Blair Wortham 6-4, 7-6(7-1). No. 6 Sallie Wallace (F) d. Hadley Peacock 6-3, 6-1.

Doubles -- No. 1 Sasser-Claiborne (CBA) d. Prince-Cedeno 10-3.