Gators win Carolina tennis title
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 4, 2006 2:12 PM
After toiling through some early-week adversity, the Spring Creek men's tennis team turned in a strong performance during Wednesday afternoon's Class 1-A Carolina Conference tournament.
Senior Cliff Wilson easily defended his singles title in dominating fashion and all six Gators -- to head coach Robert Jones' surprise -- qualified for the N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern individual regionals. Spring Creek also seized its second tournament team championship in the last three years with a tightly-contested 23-20 decision over North Johnston.
"Their effort was about as good as I can expect, especially in singles," said Jones. "How can it get any better to have the champion and runner-up? Justin (Smith) played well all day and Cliff did what he always does."
Wilson, the top seed in the eight-player draw, dropped just two games in three matches and remained unbeaten in 15 outings. Wilson, the reigning News-Argus Player of the Year, emerged the Carolina 1-A doubles champion in 2003 and 2004 with brother Grey.
Smith lost just four games in quarterfinal- and semifinal-round action before falling 6-0, 6-1 to Wilson in the final.
"Justin beat a good player (Kyle McLamb) in the semifinals and played a great match," said Jones, whose team earned 18 points in singles competition.
The doubles of Frederick Ellis-Jonathan Sutton and John Potts-Daniel Correll each posted a top-five finish.
Ellis-Sutton prevailed 6-3, 6-3 in the opening round against North Johnston's Jeffrey Littleton-Kalen Barnes. The duo let two match points slip away in a second-round loss against Rosewood's Ty Johnson-Daniel Ellis, the No. 1 seed overall.
Rosewood's No. 2 doubles of Drew Kriger-J.P. Cummins outlasted Ellis-Sutton 4-6, 3-6, 7-5 in the third-place match.
"Ellis-Sutton played their best matches of the year," said Jones. "I think they got a little tired against Rosewood's Kriger and Cummins. The tank went dry."
Potts-Correll stumbled in the first round against the Panthers' Josh Cooper-Chris Johnson, who eventually claimed the doubles championship. Potts-Correll triumphed 7-6 (10), 6-7 (3), 7-5 in a second-round match against Ayden-Grifton, and lost to Littleton-Barnes in the fifth-place match.
"Correll did well for someone who has been playing for just two months," Jones said.
Rosewood is sending five players to the regionals, which will be contested next weekend on the John Allen Farfour Courts at Herman Park. Fail will compete in singles, while Johnson-Ellis (9-7) and Kriger-Cummins will battle in doubles.
North Johnston, a first-year program, qualified its entire starting lineup.
Ayden-Grifton will send Eric Dendy to the 16-player singles draw.
Spring Creek (6-6) and Rosewood (10-5) face each other in a season-ending dual match this afternoon. If the Gators win, they'll create a three-way tie for first place with the Eagles and Panthers, and take the No. 1 seed -- by virtue of a draw conducted before the tournament -- for the playoffs.
If Rosewood wins, it will claim the No. 1 seed outright and bump Spring Creek to No. 3.
2006 Carolina 1-A
Conference Men's Tennis
(at Herman Park)
1. Spring Creek (SC) 23
2. North Johnston (NJ) 20
3. Rosewood (RHS) 15
4. Ayden-Grifton (AG) 4
Quarterfinals: Wilson (SC) d. Peedin (NJ) 6-1, 6-0; Dendy (AG) d. Morris (RHS) 7-5, 4-6, 9-7; Smith (SC) d. Fail (RHS) 6-1, 6-0; McLamb (NJ) d. Sutton (AG) 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4).
Semifinals: Wilson (SC) d. Dendy (AG) 6-0, 6-0; Smith (SC) d. McLamb 6-1, 6-2.
Final: Wilson (SC) d. Smith (SC) 6-0, 6-1.
Quarterfinals: Johnson-Ellis (RHS) d. Hardison-Allen (AG) 6-1, 6-2; Ellis-Sutton (SC) d. Littleton-Barnes 6-3, 6-3; Kriger-Cummins (RHS) d. Lewis-Meeks (AG) 7-5, 6-1; Cooper-Johnson (NJ) d. Potts-Correll 6-0, 6-0.
Semifinals: Johnson-Ellis (RHS) d. Ellis-Sutton (SC) 3-6, 7-5, 7-2; Cooper-Johnson (NJ) d. Kriger-Cummins (RHS) 6-1, 6-2.
Final: Cooper-Johnson (NJ) d. Johnson-Ellis 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Cliff Wilson Spring Creek
Eric Dendy Ayden-Grifton
Justin Smith Spring Creek
Kyle McLamb North Johnston
Daniel Peedin North Johnston
Josh Fail Rosewood
Ellis-Sutton Spring Creek
Cooper-Johnson North Johnston
Littleton-Barnes North Johnston
Potts-Correll Spring Creek
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