11/07/04 — Rams denied elusive state title

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Rams denied elusive state title

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 7, 2004 2:03 AM

BURLINGTON -- Seven trips equals seven losses.

It's a frustrating and disappointing equation that Greene Central girls tennis coach Donald Clark certainly doesn't favor. But it happens to be the result that occurs each season when the Rams appear in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2-A dual-team championship match.

The latest defeat transpired Saturday afternoon.

Charlotte Catholic prevailed at No. 2 doubles and successfully defended its state title on the Burlington Tennis Center courts. The Cougars (22-4) seized their third crown in the last four years and seventh overall since the dual-team format started in 1990.

"It's certainly disappointing and I thought we were prepared to play today," Clark said. "Catholic has got a great team and they just outplayed us.

"I feel like there is not a lot of difference between the two teams. But on the big points in the big situations in singles, they reached down inside and found a little extra (energy) and we didn't."

Clark carried his most competitive team to the final and the Rams were just one or two points from carrying a lead into doubles.

Top-seeded Meredith Rouse led in the second set, but dropped the final three games in a 6-1, 7-5 loss to Caroline Kuttner. Senior Sarah Moore trailed throughout her match against Liz Tans, and like Rouse, failed to capitalize on the key points.

Summer Chase suffered the same fate at No. 3 singles. The senior bolted to a 3-0 lead in the second set and clung to a one-game lead at 5-4 and nearly forced a third set. But Catholic's Alley Leahy took the final three games for a 6-2, 7-5 win.

"I can't say we played

poorly," Clark said. "Team-

wise, we played well enough to win. We played about like we have all year. But when you get up here to the state championship, you've got to step it up a notch and we have not learned how to step it up a notch."

The Rams' Christi Murphy, seeded fourth, led

3-2 midway through the opening set. She struggled to keep the ball in play consistently and wound up falling 6-3, 6-1 to Kathleen McAfee.

Senior Holly Mace and junior Ashley Harrell emerged Greene Central's bright spots in singles. Mace rebounded from a second-set collapse to defeat Jenna Sisky 6-1, 7-5, 7-2. Harrell played tight through the early stages of her straight-set victory -- 6-3, 6-4 against Angela Ohlhaut.

"If everybody had gone on the court today and played like Holly Mace, with her heart, I think things could have been different because that's the type of effort it takes," Clark said. "She husled, fought and did everything she possibly could. Considering the knee injury she's got and the big brace she wears, I'm extremely proud of her.

"She played well."

Clark felt the Rams needed to split singles or lead 4-2 heading into doubles. He admitted his team plays well in doubles when things are clicking, but when they're not, the players make key mental mistakes.

Those troubles surfaced in the three doubles matches. The Cougars took advantage of unforced errors, particularly the No. 2 tandem of Kuttner-Leahy. The pair raced to an 8-0 lead before surrendering a game to Murphy-Harrell, who seemed to have no answer for Kuttner-Leahy's solid net play.

Kuttner-Leahy rolled 10-1.

Clark commended the Cougars for utilizing their strengths and keeping their poise when they fell behind. He also said that he plans to implement some new strategies into the Rams' practice plans for next season.

"Every year is different," Clark said. "You see things and I see that we're going to have to improve on our competitiveness even more, and learn how to handle pressure situations.

"I know I'm disappointed and the girls are, too. But, they did their best and that's all I can ask of them."

The Rams finished 26-3.

2004 N.C. High School

Athletic Association Class 2-A

Dual-Team Tennis Championship

(at Burlington Tennis Center)

Charlotte Catholic 5, Greene Central 2

Singles -- No. 1 Caroline Kuttner (CC) d. Meredith Rouse 6-1, 7-5; No. 2 Liz Tans (CC) d. Sarah Moore 6-4, 6-3; No. 3 Alley Leahy (CC) d. Summer Chase 6-2, 7-5; No. 4 Holly Mace (GC) d. Jenna Sisky 6-1, 5-7, 7-2; No. 5 Kathleen McAfee (CC) d. Christi Murphy 6-3, 6-1; No. 6 Ashley Harrell (GC) d. Angela Ohlhaut 6-3, 6-4.

Doubles -- No. 2 Kuttner-Leahy (CC) d. Murphy-Harrell 10-1.