11/02/05 — Final 4 bound - Aycock netters blitz Wilson Fike

View Archive

Final 4 bound - Aycock netters blitz Wilson Fike

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on November 2, 2005 2:02 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- This isn't a team content with simply being in the Final Four.

The Charles B. Aycock Golden Falcons want to win it all.

For the second year in a row, the Falcons tennis team took on Wilson Fike in the Class 3-A state quarterfinals. And for the second consecutive season, Aycock sent the Golden Demons packing, winning Tuesday afternoon's match at Mount Olive College, 5-1.

Raychel Batts

News-Argus/Steve Roush

Raychel Batts returns a shot to Wilson Fike's Sara Francis during Tuesday's state quarterfinals match. Batts won her match 6-0, 6-0.

"I'm so excited to be in the Final Four once again," said Nicole Taylor (18-2), who beat Fike's Farrell Wiggins (21-4) by a score of 6-3, 6-4 in third singles. "It's my senior year and we're taking it home, baby. We want to win it all ... that's our goal."

Charles B. Aycock has made Final Four appearances eight of the last nine years, advanced to the state finals in 1995, '96 and '97, and won it all in '97.

The Golden Falcons (19-1) hope bring another state championship back to Pikeville, but senior Carlyn Claiborne expects the tournament road to get tougher as Aycock hosts Burlington Williams on Thursday in the state semis.

"Thursday will be a reality check," said Claiborne (19-1), who cruised past the Demons' Sarah Prince (13-9) in second singles 6-0, 6-0. "None of our matches in the postseason have been really close yet, but we expect to meet some really good competition on Thursday. We need to step it up and hopefully win the whole thing."

If Aycock can get past Union Pines, the Falcons will travel to Burlington on Saturday to play in the state finals at 9 a.m.

"We've got a lot of confidence, but anything can happen on any given day," Falcons coach Luke Vail said. "We've got to play our best game on Thursday, and if we do, we have a great chance to win. The kids are excited, and I'm excited.

"But we're not going to sneak up on anybody," Vail cautioned. "Everybody wants to beat Aycock in tennis."

Like Claiborne, first singles player Raychel Batts (22-0) dominated her match, whipping Sarah Francis (13-4) by a 6-0, 6-0 score.

"Raychel is our leader," Vail said. "She's an incredible player and the leadership she gives us is big."

Lizzie Sodoma (15-4) also cruised in her fifth singles match against Kate Woodard (18-5), winning 6-1, 6-0.

In the longest match of the day, Aycock sophomore Kristen Prosser (13-2) needed more than two hours to get past Fike's Katelyn Suggs (16-2), 6-1, 7-5. Prosser was down 1-4 before coming on strong in the second set to end the match.

Both of Suggs' losses this year have been to the Golden Falcons.

"(Suggs) started coming to the net (in the second set), and I had to get my range on my lobs and passing shots," Prosser said.

Prosser, along with Sodoma, will be making their Final Four debut.

"I'm excited about going," Prosser said.

"(Prosser) is playing really well for a sophomore," Vail said. "She and Lizzie are my aces in the hole. They've really grown up as the season has progressed and are playing like veterans now."

The Demons got their only win of the day at third singles, where Geri Hare (20-2) beat Laine Purcell (17-4) by a tally of 6-1, 6-1. Purcell, a senior who has had two shoulder surgeries, appeared to have reinjured her right shoulder and was in obvious pain during the match.

Wilson Fike finished the season with a 19-3 record.

"After last season, we had to replace our three, four, five and six," Fike coach Lee Matthews said. "We made it to this round last year and lost to Aycock, and to make it back here this year is a testament to the hard work and work ethic of this team.

"It's been a great season."