Ziccardi, Bryant-Jackson each emerge ECC 3-A tennis champion
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 5, 2006 2:04 PM
SNOW HILL -- Regular-season champion Eastern Wayne claimed supremacy in singles and doubles during final-round play the inaugural Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference men's tennis tournament Thursday afternoon.
Warrior senior Drew Ziccardi needed 95 minutes to earn the singles championship on the Snow Hill Tennis Complex courts. Teammates Drew Jackson-Alex Bryant rallied from a three-game, opening-set deficit and prevailed in the doubles final.
"It was nice to know that the guy I was going to face would be pretty tired after a long match," said Ziccardi. "I was ready. When I got out there, it sure didn't show, but I felt ready for it."
Ziccardi, seeded No. 2 in the 14-player draw, waited nearly two hours to avenge a three-set loss against top-seeded James Walker, a senior from Kinston. Ziccardi breezed to a 6-1 win in the opening set.
Walker (9-2), who had played a grueling two-hour match against Eastern Wayne junior Jared Stone in the semifinals, changed tactics in the second set. He took a lot of pace off his first serve and aggressively attacked the net.
"He started pushing it more and more," said Ziccardi. "I'd hit it wide on my serve and he'd be right in the middle of the court for a short ball. I tried to hit it inside-out to his backhand, and he'd go down the line and pass me."
Ziccardi served an ace to make it 2-all in the second set.
The played eight deuce points in the fifth game and Ziccardi needed five break points to gain the upper hand. He closed out the game with a forehand shot down the line that Walker returned into the net.
"I was putting a lot of effort into it, obviously," said Ziccardi. "It was taking a toll on my head (mentally). I'm just glad it's over."
Ziccardi (17-1) captured the next three games and became the first-ever singles champion in Nancy Dawson's 11-year tenure as Warrior head coach.
Stone, seeded fourth, dropped the opening set against Walker. He erased an early-second set deficit and held serve twice to even the match with a 6-4 win.
"The first set I tried to hit with him and didn't play my game ... tried to overpower him and he plays off power," said Stone, who was the fourth seed overall. "I just started lobbing. It wasn't good tennis to watch, but I had to get the job done.
"Then my serve started coming around in the second set."
Stone (17-1) grabbed a 3-0 lead in the third set, but his quad muscles began tightening. Play stopped as Stone lay on the courts with Dawson attempting to work out the cramps.
After a 20-minute delay, Stone returned to the courts and Walker pulled within 4-1. Walker took the next game and Stone conceded the match.
"It just started to spread as I continued to play. It was crazy," said Stone. "I was trying to squeeze it out, but there was no way."
Stone, Ziccardi, Walker and Beddingfield junior Justin Webb all earned spots in next week's N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern individual regionals at Barton College. Webb, who played No. 1 singles for the Bruins, earned third place overall since Stone could not continue.
Jackson-Bryant, the No. 1 seed in doubles play, started the afternoon with a 6-1, 6-0 rout of Beddingfield's Tony Arizpe-Darren Gardner. The straight-set triumph set up a championship final against Hunt's tandem of Drew Calvert-Alex Baskervill, who defeated C.B. Aycock's Blake Cooper-Ben Evans.
Calvert-Baskervill methodically worked the court well and hit sharp balls in building a 3-0 lead in the opening set. The teams battled through a couple of deuce points in the third game, which boosted the confidence level of Jackson-Bryant.
"We were playing really bad and I guess we were kind of nervous," said Bryant, a senior and four-year starter. "They were playing really well and just took us out of our comfort zone, I guess.
"The third game and brought it back to deuce, and that's when we starting picking up our game. That helped."
Jackson-Bryant (12-2) won five straight games and closed out the set 6-4. Calvert-Baskervill never recovered and endured a 6-1 defeat in the second set.
The Warrior duo, like Ziccardi, became Dawson's first-ever doubles champions.
"This was great," said Bryant.
Aycock's Cooper-Evans stumbled 6-2, 6-0 against Arizpe-Gardner in the third-place match. All four semifinal doubles teams advanced to the eastern regionals.
"They're both young and to have two sophomores make it to the regionals for the first time, I'm happy," said Golden Falcons coach Kelly Matthews. "I thought we would make it to today, but I knew Hunt's No. 1 doubles was really strong.
"With the kind of season we've had, they've done really well this week."
2006 Class 3-A
Conference Men's Tennis
(at Snow Hill Tennis Complex)
First round: Andy Yerkes (Hunt) d. Ryan Phillips (Bed) 6-4, 6-2; Jared Stone (E. Wayne) d. Alex Ferrell (Bed) 6-0, 6-0; Sean Anglin (Kinston) d. John Stedman (So. Wayne) 6-4, 6-1; Justin Tew (H) d. Steven Tsao (K) 6-4, 7-5; Justin Webb (B) d. Preston Grantham (SW) 5-7, 6-4, 7-3; Justin Tsao (K) d. Nirav Patel (B) 6-1, 6-2.
Quarterfinals: James Walker (K) d. Yerkes (H) 6-4, 6-2; Stone (EW) d. Anglin (K) 6-4, 6-1; Webb (B) d. Tew 2-6, 6-3, 8-6; Drew Ziccardi (EW) d. J. Tsao (K) 6-0, 6-0.
Semifinals: Walker (K) d. Stone 7-5, 4-6, 2-4 (ret.); Ziccardi (EW) d. Webb 6-0, 6-0.
Final: Ziccardi (EW) d. Walker (K) 6-1, 6-2.
First round: Cooper Johnson-Bruce Pittman (C.B. Aycock) d. Robert Lupton-Bert Landon (H) 6-3, 6-3; David Benton-Eric Barnes (EW) d. Jonathan Hartley-Sterling Blackman (SW) 6-3, 6-3; Graham Price-Chris King (SW) d. Trevor Cann-Ben Nichols by default.
Quarterfinals: Drew Jackson-Alex Bryant (EW) d. Johnson-Pittman (CBA) 6-0, 6-2; Tony Arizpe-Darren Gardner (B) d. Ethan Bowen-Mohamed Ali (K) 6-2, 4-6, 7-3; Blake Cooper-Ben Evans (CBA) d. Benton-Barnes (EW) 6-4, 6-4; Drew Calvert-Alex Baskervill (H) d. Price-King (SW) 6-1, 6-3.
Semifinals: Jackson-Bryant (EW) d. Arizpe-Gardner 6-1, 6-0; Calvert-Baskervill (H) d. Cooper-Evans 6-2, 6-2.
Third place: Arizpe-Gardner (B) d. Cooper-Evans 6-2, 6-0.
Final: Jackson-Bryant (EW) d. Calvert-Baskervill 6-4, 6-1.
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