WCDS netters struggle on match point
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 14, 2006 1:58 PM
Wayne Country Day came agonizingly close to knocking off Rocky Mount Academy on Thursday afternoon, but couldn't convert three critical match points.
The Eagles fended off those match points, including two in singles play, and turned back the Chargers 7-2 on the Wayne Community College courts. Rocky Mount Academy (8-2) completed the regular-season sweep and exited 4-1 overall on the Classes 1-A/2-A Coastal Plains Independent Conference men's tennis scene.
"It's a matter of a few points that could have turned the tide," said WCDS coach Jo Ann Logan. "That's the way tennis is, not just at this level, but every level."
Logan added one difference is a lineup change that occurred when Byron Bryan, the Chargers' No. 3 singles player, sustained a back injury. The absence has caused Logan to bump younger, inexperienced guys up a flight and they're just now making the adjustment.
Sixth-seeded Kevin Martell, who started the season with the junior varsity, moved into the No. 6 slot when Bryan went down. George Mayo, Luxman Srikantha and Fred Ha each advanced up the ladder and are beginning to gain some maturity.
"We started off like gangbusters, but when you lose one of your top players, it's tough," said Logan. "Everybody is stepping up to the plate, but we're just not putting it together at the same time.
"The younger guys are catching up and they realize now how important each match is for them."
Rocky Mount Academy has endured the same fate with Chris Cash, a returning starter. The third-seeded Cash sustained an injury playing soccer and seventh-grader Miguel Valdez has admirably filled that spot.
Valdez hasn't tasted defeat and hasn't lost more than three games in any match at this point. He defeated the Chargers' Mayo, a returning a starter, 6-1, 6-0.
"He's been a surprise," said RMA assistant coach Connor.
The Eagles seized five of six singles points on a breezy, but unseasonably hot afternoon.
Top-seeded Zack Cyrus rolled past Ross Wilson 6-0, 6-0 and avenged a three-set loss in their first meeting. Cyrus (6-3, 4-1 CPIC) played a steady baseline game and charged the net on occasion during opening-set play.
Wilson (10-3) changed his strategy a little in the second set and hit several short balls. Cyrus attacked those balls well and placed his return shots, but Wilson never consistently countered.
Fourth-seeded Shanuk Varma stopped Srikantha 6-2, 6-3.
Fifth-seeded Gavin McKenzie outlasted Ha 6-4, 6-7 (4), 10-2. Teammate Rob Jenkins built a six-point lead in the third-set tiebreaker against Martell and survived two match points before winning 6-1, 0-6, 13-11.
"The guys who lost in close tiebreakers in singles were more aggressive and thinking through their points," said Logan. " Maybe a little more experience would have helped. (Martell) has just picked up a racquet this season.
"(Ha) is starting to play really smart tennis. When you have to move up a couple of notches, it makes a difference."
Junior David Wilson claimed the Chargers' lone singles win 6-0, 6-2 over Chris Jensen. Wilson improved to 12-1 overall and remained unbeaten in four CPIC outings.
Wilson and doubles mate Ross picked up an 8-3 victory at No. 1 doubles. The duo is 11-1 overall and 3-0 against CPIC opposition. They didn't play together in the Chargers' conference opener.
"They really played well," said Logan of Wilson-Wilson.
Rocky Mount Academy earned a tie-breaking win at No. 2 doubles and cruised to an 8-3 decision at No. 3.
"We're just a few points away from holding our own with everybody right now," said Logan. "I have a good feeling they're going to rejuvenate themselves come conference tournament and state tournament time.
"They're giving it everything they can."
Rocky Mount Academy 7
Wayne Country Day 2
Singles -- No. 1 Zack Cyrus (RMA) d. Ross Wilson 6-0, 6-0; No. 2 David Wilson (WCDS) d. Chris Jensen 6-0, 6-2; No. 3 Miguel Valdez (RMA) d. George Mayo 6-1, 6-0; No. 4 Shanuk Varma (RMA) d. Luxman Srikantha 6-2, 6-3; No. 5 Gavin McKenzie (RMA) d. Fred Ha 6-4, 6-7 (4), 10-2; No. 6 Rob Jenkins (RMA) d. Kevin Martell 6-1, 0-6, 13-11.
Doubles - No. 1 Wilson-Wilson (WCDS) d. Cyrus-Valdez 8-3; No. 2 Jensen-Varma (RMA) d. Mayo-Ha 9-8 (7); No. 3 McKenzie-Jenkins (RMA) d. Srikantha-Martell 8-3.
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