03/31/06 — Warriors net fourth consecutive shutout in tennis

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Warriors net fourth consecutive shutout in tennis

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 31, 2006 2:04 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Confident, but not overconfident.

Eastern Wayne continued its impressive first-half run on the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference men's tennis scene with a 9-0 conquest of county rival Charles B. Aycock on Thursday afternoon. The Warriors (7-2) lost just 16 games in singles and doubles play combined, and have yet to allow a point against league opposition this season.

C.B. Aycock (0-4 ECC) remained winless in 14 outings overall.

"They're obviously the standout (team) in our conference," said first-year Aycock coach Kelly Matthews. "I have not seen anyone that compares to them."

The more-experienced Warriors capitalized on Aycock's youth and a slight lineup change that proved crucial. The Golden Falcons, who return just two starters from a year ago, competed without No. 2 seed Corey Walker. His absence forced Matthews to bump every starter up one position.

Eastern Wayne's top four seeds -- Drew Ziccardi, Jared Stone, Drew Jackson and Alex Bryant -- each delivered a 6-1, 6-0 victory. Fifth-seeded David Benton turned back Aycock's Bruce Pittman 6-1, 6-1. Ben Wines, the Warriors' No. 6 seed, stopped Ben Nichols 6-0, 6-1.

"When you have an inexperienced team and you have to do something like that, it's tough," said veteran Eastern Wayne coach Nancy Dawson. "I've been there and done that myself, so I know how she feels.

"I thought they played well. Ben is doing some really good stuff and has got the smarts to go with it. Drew Jackson and David are playing very solid. That's two good wins to pick up."

Aycock battled the Warriors in doubles.

The top-seeded tandem of Blake Cooper-Ben Evans dropped the first three games against the Warriors' Bryant-Jackson. Cooper-Evans pulled within 3-2 and trailed by one game after numerous court changes.

Bryant-Jackson seized the opening point in the final game with Jackson serving. After an unforced error, Bryant-Jackson took the next three points and match.

"(Aycock's) got a good No. 1 doubles," said Dawson. "I got a feeling when we see them again, things just might be a little different. My boys were able to close out things and once those guys get more experience, they'll be able to close out things."

Ziccardi-Stone continued their dominance at the No. 2 slot with an 8-0 decision against Cooper Johnson-Pittman. Ziccardi-Stone recorded their fourth shutout in ECC play.

The No. 3 duo of Benton-Eric Barnes shook off a slow start and turned back Aycock's Trevor Cann-Ben Nichols 8-3.

Dawson liked her team's aggressive play.

"They're looking to make things happen for them instead of waiting for someone else to make an error," said Dawson. "That's what good teams do. I also like the fact they're trying some things to make them better players and that's good.

"A lot of guys would not be patient enough and mature enough to try those things."

Eastern Wayne claimed its 16th ECC win in its last 18 tries.

"It's a building year and we're learning the fundamentals of the game," said Matthews, who played on Aycock's state 3-A girls championship team in 1997. "Maybe this can be us in two or three years if we keep building (the program)."

Eastern Wayne 9

C.B. Aycock 0

Singles -- No. 1 Drew Ziccardi (EW) d. Blake Cooper 6-1, 6-0; No. 2 Jared Stone (EW) d. Ben Evans 6-1, 6-0; No. 3 Drew Jackson (EW) d. Trevor Cann 6-1, 6-0; No. 4 Alex Bryant (EW) d. Cooper Johnson 6-1, 6-0; No. 5 David Benton (EW) d. Bruce Pittman 6-1, 6-1; No. 6 Ben Wines (EW) d. Ben Nichols 6-0, 6-1.

Doubles -- No. 1 Bryant-Jackson (EW) d. Cooper-Evans 8-6; No. 2 Ziccardi-Stone (EW) d. Johnson-Pittman 8-0; No. 3 Benton-Eric Barnes (EW) d. Cann-Nichols 8-3.