Warriors move closer to ECC 3-A tennis title
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 3, 2005 2:17 PM
The No. 1 doubles of Jared Stone-Drew Ziccardi toiled through a mid-
match slump and lifted Eastern Wayne to a 5-3 decision against West
Carteret on the Wayne Community College courts Monday afternoon. The
victory moved the Warriors one step closer to claiming their first
men's tennis title -- in regular-season play -- in two-plus decades.
A win this afternoon at county rival Charles B. Aycock assures Eastern
Wayne a portion of the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference
championship. The Warriors (14-2, 12-1 ECC) trail Washington, which
has already clinched a share of the crown, by one-half game.
"One more," said veteran Eastern Wayne coach Nancy Dawson once the
Stone-Ziccardi match ended. She pumped her fist by her side and
congratulated the duo once they exited the court. Dawson speculated
the Warriors' last title in men's tennis occurred in the 1980s with
Pam Edwards as head coach.
West Carteret, the reigning ECC champion, nearly spoiled Eastern
Wayne's championship march in partly cloudy and breezy conditions. The
Patriots trailed 3-2 overall with one singles match in progress when
doubles play started. The No. 1 tandem of Billy Rawls-Tim Wilkerson
gained a 6-6 tie when Stone double faulted on serve into the net on
Dawson had a short chat with Stone-Ziccardi during the court change.
"I told them they were getting upset and losing focus," Dawson
said. "I asked them 'who had more to lose here? Us or them? I'm glad
they understood what I was saying."
Stone-Ziccardi recovered and broke the Patriots' serve to go ahead 7-6.
Ziccardi opened the next game with a blistering serve off Rawls'
racquet. Wilkerson misplayed a forehand return long and Ziccardi
served his second ace for a 40-love advantage. Wilkerson returned the
next serve, a short volley that just cleared the net. Stone smashed it
down the middle to clinch the match 8-6.
"Great serving," Dawson said to Ziccardi.
Ziccardi, Stone and freshman Drew Jackson helped the Warriors claim a
3-2 lead in singles.
Stone rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the opening set and turned back
Wes Horne 6-4, 6-3. Ziccardi stopped Rawls 6-4, 6-3. Jackson, who gave
up nearly a foot in height against the Pats' Frank Gainey, triumphed 6-
Wilkerson and Billy Coulter each took a singles match for the
Patriots, who lost an ECC match for just the third time in their last
27 outings. Teammate George Dawkins won nine of 13 games and built a 3-
0, second-set lead against the Warriors' Lee Ingles.
However, Ingles never wavered.
A first-year player, Ingles kept picking Dawkins apart point by point.
He emerged victorious in a second-set tiebreaker and forced a third
set. Dawkins couldn't match Ingles' athleticism and eventually
"They really had some long points for number six players," Dawson
said. "One of the things about Lee that is truly remarkable is you can
tell him something between games, and he can execute it to the best of
"One of his biggest assets is he quick. He showed today he has the
heart of a champion and I'm proud of him."
Eastern Wayne swept West Carteret for the first time since the ECC's
inception in 2001-02. The Warriors are the fifth conference team to
qualify for the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team
playoffs. Dawson is taking a team to the postseason for the first time
since 1999 when Eastern Wayne competed in the old Mideastern 4-A
If the Warriors end up tied with Washington, the head coaches plan to
resolve the dilemma with a coin flip at Wednesday's conference
tournament at Herman Park. The No. 1 seed gets a home match, while the
No. 2 seed travels. Three ECC teams earn spots in the 16-team eastern
Regardless of the outcome, Dawson couldn't be more pleased with her
"These guys are excited and I told them this (success) is all them,"
said Dawson, whose team seized its sixth consecutive dual-match
win. "They're a great bunch of guys. I don't think I've ever enjoyed
coaching a group of guys as much as this one. They've had the proper
mindset from the get-go ... tunnel vision."
With one match to go.
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