11/03/04 — Greene Central gets back to eastern finals

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Greene Central gets back to eastern finals

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 3, 2004 1:55 PM

SNOW HILL -- A workmanlike effort.

Unemotional from the opening point to the last, Greene Central completed its task in an efficient manner Tuesday afternoon against First Flight. The Rams needed just 75 minutes to eliminate the Nighthawks 6-0 from the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2-A dual-team tennis playoffs.

Greene Central (25-2) clinched its seventh straight appearance in the eastern regional championship and opposes conference foe Tarboro High at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. The Vikings advanced with a tight, 5-4 victory against Swansboro.

"We were very flat and unemotional, pretty much the way we've been throughout the state playoffs," Greene Central coach Donald Clark said. "I don't like to see it, but at the same time, when you work with so many kids during the years, I understand.

"I've got juniors and seniors who have been through this so many times, it's almost become routine. We really played a little tired today, but all of the girls turned in a very workmanlike performance."

The Rams posted their 21st shutout of the season and boosted their playoff record to 27-0 against eastern teams since 1998. It was also their 18th consecutive home postseason victory since 1999.

Junior Ashley Harrell, the No. 6 seed, exited the court first. She moved Marali Calfe from corner to corner and kept her off balance with good shot selection in a 6-0, 6-0 win. Harrell claimed her 25th win in 26 tries.

"Ashley played with a lot of spring in her step," Clark said. "You can tell from a player's body language and footwork if they're excited about playing. Ashley definitely came to play today.

"She has been a rock for this team this year. You can depend on Ashley every time she steps onto the court."

Fourth-seeded Holly Mace (28-3) finished off Amber Stanley not long after Harrell blitzed her opponent. Mace consistently hit her ground strokes with good pace and dismissed Stanley 6-0, 6-0.

Senior Sarah Moore connected on numerous winners off her backhand and forehand in a 6-1, 6-0 conquest of Hillary Hutchins. Moore took the final eight games en route to her 23rd singles victory in 27 outings.

"I told the girls you can't take anyone for granted," Clark said. "First Flight came into today and battled hard against us. They went on the road and upset Southern Vance and High Point Andrews, two conference champions, and they were ready to play again today.

"I was extremely impressed with their team."

Summer Chase dominated the opening set 6-1 against third-seeded Casey Absher. Absher played less tentative in the second set, and put pressure on Moore by hitting a few winners.

However, like she has done all season, Chase made the necessary adjustments. The Greene Central senior seized three of the final four games in a 6-1, 6-3 decision -- her 30th of the year against just five defeats.

As the court lights began to take effect and the sun settled in the distance, all eyes turned to the match between top seeds Meredith Rouse and Cuyler Wells. Rouse bolted to a 4-1 lead and appeared in control, but began making costly mistakes. Wells stepped up her game by hitting sharp, angling shots and climbed back into the match.

Rouse, her frustration mounting, slapped her thigh after a forehand return clipped the net and fell back on her side of the court. The unforced error completed Wells' 3-0 run and turned what had been a comfortable three-game advantage into a 5-4 nail-biter.

Clark called Rouse to the fence.

"I told her the biggest trouble you're having is when you hit a ball wide to her, she hits it even wider back to you," Clark said. "I told her to keep the ball in the middle of the court and keep hitting to her until she makes a mistake. She went out there and did what I told her to do."

Wells lost the first point on her serve, but forged a 15-15 tie on an unforced error. Rouse, following Clark's instructions, shortened her strokes and hit three consecutive winners to close out the set 6-4. Rouse (21-5) rolled to a 5-0 lead in the second set and eventually won 6-1.

Christi Murphy finished off the Nighthawks with a three-set victory at No. 5 singles. Murphy and Eliza Vaughan split sets, but Murphy won the tiebreaker and match 6-3, 4-6, 8-6.

"Christi executed well when the match got tight," said Clark, whose team is 15-0 at home this season.

2004 N.C. High School

Athletic Association Class 2-A

Dual-Team Playoffs

(at Snow Hill Tennis Complex)

Singles -- No. 1 Meredith Rouse (GC) d. Cuyler Wells 6-4, 6-1; No. 2 Sarah Moore (GC) d. Hillary Hutchins 6-1, 6-0; No. 3 Summer Chase (GC) d. Casey Absher 6-1, 6-3; No. 4 Holly Mace (GC) d. Amber Stanley 6-0, 6-0; No. 5 Christi Murphy (GC) d. Eliza Vaughan 6-3, 4-6, 8-6; No. 6 Ashley Harrell (GC) d. Marali Calfe 6-0, 6-0.

Doubles -- Not contested.