05/04/05 — Mills, O'dell upend Greene Central duo

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Mills, O'dell upend Greene Central duo

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 4, 2005 2:02 PM

SNOW HILL -- No one had taken a court against Greene Central in doubles competition this season ... until Tuesday afternoon.

North Lenoir's top-seeded tandem of Alex Mills-Jared O'dell labored through a few second-set mistakes to upend the Rams' Banks Nimmo-Travis Moore 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference men's tennis tournament.

"We played real good in that first set, and then we got kind of tight," first-year Hawks coach Courtney Harrell said. "They got down in the second and I told them they have to play to win. There wasn't anything else I could do for them, so I left them alone.

"If they're going to do it, they've got to learn how to do it on their own."

Harrell quietly watched Mills-O'dell erase a 3-2 deficit in the third set and hand Nimmo-Moore their first defeat in 10 outings. Both doubles teams qualified for the N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern regionals scheduled for next week at John A. Holmes High in Edenton.

"I thought it was a fun match to watch," Rams coach Brad Sauls said of Nimmo-Moore. "There were a lot of good exchanges. I'm very pleased with the way my guys played and they're disappointed that they lost because they knew they had a chance to win.

"In the end, you have to look at the big picture -- 'did I play well?' I don't think they can really walk away from that match saying they didn't play well."

Mills-O'dell (9-1) face the Rams' unbeaten and top-seeded duo of Brent Darden-Lin Hall (12-0) in today's EPC title match. Darden-Hall, who qualified for the regionals, blitzed the Hawks' Jerry Mills-Ryan Ipock 6-0, 6-0 in their opening-round match.

North Pitt's Corey Ward-Ronald Redmond seized the first game against Darden-Hall in semifinal-round play. However, the Rams duo took the next 12 games and the match 6-1, 6-0. Ward-Redmond rallied from an opening-set loss to defeat SouthWest Edgecombe's Jackson Perry-Tyler Cannon 1-6, 6-1, 6-0 in their regional-qualifying match.

The Hawks' Jared Mills-Ryan Ipock can clinch the conference's final regional berth this afternoon. The duo bounced back from their early-afternoon shutout loss to upend Perry-Cannon 0-6, 6-4, 6-1.

As expected, Greene Central dominated singles play.

Senior Chris Hardy, the No. 1 seed, eliminated SouthWest's Corey Hamilton 6-1, 6-0 in his regional-qualifying match. Hardy captured his 19th consecutive victory 6-1, 6-0 against the Hawks' James Parker.

In the bottom half of the draw, first-year starter Bryan Pollock outlasted Tarboro's Ezequiel Casarin 6-1, 6-3 in their regional-qualifying affair. Pollock, the Rams' No. 6 singles player, turned back North Pitt's Kajuan Williams 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals.

Pollock (18-1) faces Hardy for the EPC title today.

"I've been real pleased with the way we've played," Sauls said. "We've gone out there, developed our shots and not held back. We worked strategies that we've been practicing and I'm real pleased with our overall consistency.

"We've had a couple of shaky games here and there, but nobody is going to play perfectly. Three of my top six (singles), this is their first conference tournament ever and I think they've handled the situation extremely well."

Harrell shared the same sentiment with Sauls. He praised the play of Parker and freshman Clinton O'dell, who each remain alive in the consolation bracket.

Parker plodded through some opening-match mistakes against North Pitt's David McCray -- a 6-2, 7-5 win. He settled down and played strong from start to finish in a 6-2, 6-0 conquest of Rob Sykes, Tarboro's No. 1 seed.

O'dell lost to Casarin, but beat Tarboro's Jacob Pearce 6-1, 6-4 later in the day.

"I was real proud of the way James played and acted in the second match," Harrell said. "I'm real proud of all of them. They've worked real hard this year and I'm looking forward to the playoffs."

Greene Central (17-0) and North Lenoir (14-3) begin play next Tuesday in the NCHSAA dual-team playoffs. Each will host a first-round match.