05/03/05 — Warriors move closer to ECC 3-A tennis title

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Warriors move closer to ECC 3-A tennis title

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 3, 2005 2:17 PM

One more.

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

game point.

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-

2, 6-3.

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

stumbled 7-3.

"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

his ability.

"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

team's performance.

"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.