Carolina/Super Six -- Eagles defend title
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 13, 2005 2:00 PM
Keep six balls in play.
The simple strategy proved effective and helped Stacy Smith add another chapter to her illustrious career at Spring Creek. Smith rallied from a set down to defeat Rosewood senior Kayce Brantham 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 for the Class 1-A Carolina/Super Six Conference singles championship Wednesday afternoon.
Smith, seeded No. 2 in the 12-player field, seized her third conference title in singles and fourth overall. She won the Carolina doubles crown with Sarah Warren last season.
Stacey Smith of Spring Creek
Rosewood collected 20 points in team competition and successfully defended its tournament championship. Spring Creek finished second with 12 points, followed by James Kenan (11), Ayden-Grifton (8), Wallace-Rose Hill (7) and North Johnston (4).
North Duplin did not score.
Brantham, who entered the match 15-0, dominated the first set. She kept Smith off stride with consistent volleys and cross-court corner shots. Brantham, the No. 1 seed, earned two service breaks during that stretch.
During the court change, Spring Creek coach Robert Jones encouraged Smith to use the six-ball scheme on each point. The strategy allowed Smith to change the tempo in her favor, but she also mixed in a steady net game that proved bothersome to Brantham.
"I stopped hitting the ball hard and just concentrated on keeping it in, getting it back (to Kayce)," said Smith, who avenged her only loss of the season. "I didn't want to screw up on an easy shot. I didn't want to lose my senior year.
"I had to pick myself up ... not give in."
Disguising her drop shot and playing an unusually passive style from the baseline, Smith frustrated Brantham early in the second set. Smith (13-1) collected an early break point and raced to a 3-0 lead.
Brantham pulled within 5-2, but could get no closer as Smith evened the match.
"I think Kayce really got tired and instead of her controlling the game, I think Stacy took control," said Rosewood coach Debbie Bailey, who admitted Smith's net play factored into the momentum change.
"That was the difference. Kayce could never get back to playing her game."
Smith, again, claimed a three-game lead in the third set. A defensive lob and service ace gave her the 3-0 cushion. A drop shot, followed by a deep cross-court winner, boosted the advantage to 4-0.
Brantham never answered.
"Coming in (to the net) and putting pressure in a pressure-filled match is big," said Jones. "It's all about how you respond to it and Stacy responded real well today. When you put pressure on somebody, it sometimes forces errors.
"She out-played Kayce as far as keeping balls in play ... wore her down a little bit. Stacy's fitness was a little bit better and she took advantage of that."
Brantham (15-1) reached the finals with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Wallace-Rose Hill's Ashley Cottle. She extended her unbeaten streak in set play to 29 and then to 30 against Smith, before dropping the final two sets.
Smith advanced to the finals with a 6-3, 6-3 conquest of Rosewood junior Sidney Worrell. Worrell, who endured her first loss in 16 outings, bounced back with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Wallace-Rose Hill's Ashley Cottle.
Bailey praised Worrell's effort.
"Sidney did a great job against Stacy today," said Bailey. "She's always a little slow starting out, but then she picks up and built up her confidence.
"Sidney was a very confident player in that (Cottle) match and I was very pleased with that one. Cottle, with this year of experience, is going to be a fine tennis player."
James Kenan's top-seeded tandem of Christa Jones-Erica Brown marched into the finals with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over North Johnston's Jessica Narron-Whitney Parrish. The duo wasted eight match points before closing out Ayden-Grifton's Laura Steinlein-Lindsey Richardson 6-1, 7-5 in the finals.
Steinlein-Richardson, the No. 2 seed, survived a three-set thriller against the Eagles' Missy Bailey-Erica Nichols in the semifinals. Bailey-Nichols rallied to tie the match at 1-1, but Steinlein-Richardson prevailed 7-5, 1-6, 6-3.
Bailey-Nichols suffered their first defeat in 14 outings. The duo rebounded with a 6-2, 6-3 conquest of Narron-Parrish in the third-place match.
"The first set, I don't think my girls played to their potential," said coach Bailey. "The second set they did a better job there."
Spring Creek senior Kaitlin Murphy and Wallace-Rose Hill's Lindsey Powell grabbed the final two regional spots. Beth Cottle-Hannah Evans of Wallace-Rose Hill and James Kenan's Jessie Smith-Brittany Mathis picked up the two remaining berths in doubles.
The N.C. High School Athletic Association Eastern Individual Regionals is scheduled for Oct. 21-22 at Herman Park. First-round play begins Oct. 21 at 2 p.m.
Rosewood and James Kenan return to action next Tuesday in the NCHSAA dual-team playoffs. Rosewood (13-1) entertains the Tar-Roanoke Conference champion, while James Kenan (10-5) travels to the Waccamaw Conference champion.
2005 Class 1-A
Carolina/Super Six Conference
Women's Tennis Tournament
(at John Allen Farfour Courts, Herman Park)
Kayce Brantham (Rosewood) d. Ashley Cottle (W.-Rose Hill) 6-0, 6-1; Stacy Smith (Spring Creek) d. Sidney Worrell (Rosewood) 6-3, 6-3.
Smith d. Brantham 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Christa Jones-Erica Brown (James Kenan) d. Jessica Narron-Whitney Parrish (N. Johnston) 6-4, 6-1; Laura Steinlein-Lindsey Richardson (A.-Grifton) d. Missy Bailey-Erica Nichols (Rosewood) 7-5, 1-6, 6-3.
Jones-Brown d. Steinlein-Richardson 6-1, 7-5.
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