05/17/06 — Gryphon netters sweep doubles, bounce E. Wayne from playoffs

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Gryphon netters sweep doubles, bounce E. Wayne from playoffs

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 17, 2006 2:20 PM

Eastern Wayne men's tennis coach Nancy Dawson didn't know how far her team would advance in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A dual-team playoffs this season.

When the 32-team bracket was announced, senior Alex Bryant predicted a third-round exit for the Warriors.

He was close.

Eastern Wayne battled to a 3-3 tie after singles play, but couldn't generate a consistent attack in doubles. Rocky Mount Senior High used solid tactical play and smart decision making to its advantage, and claimed all three matches in a 6-3 victory on the Wayne Community College courts Tuesday afternoon.

The Gryphons (13-6) face NEW Athletic 6 rival Southern Nash, the 2005 eastern runner-up, at 4 p.m. next Tuesday.

"Somewhere along the line, I thought it (playoff run) had to stop and I honestly thought it would be next week," said Dawson, whose team concluded the year 14-3. "The score mattered because I wanted to win this round, but we got this far and nothing can take that away (from us)."

Top-seeded Drew Ziccardi rallied from a second-set deficit to turn back Rocky Mount's Travis Marsh 6-3, 6-4. Marsh led 4-3 in the second set and surrendered a critical break point on an unforced error.

Ziccardi capitalized and won the next two games. He served an ace on match point and claimed his 21st singles win of the season.

Second-seeded Jared Stone routed sophomore Travis Kirkpatrick 6-2, 6-1 for his 21st singles victory against two defeats. Third-seeded Andrew Jackson posted a come-from-behind 6-4, 6-2 over the Gryphons' Samer Prasada.

Rocky Mount collected wins at Nos. 4, 5 and 6 singles.

"I needed stronger play out of my four, five and six guys," said Dawson. "One thing that bothered me in singles was the unforced errors that we made. To me, that was a lack of concentration."

Dawson, honestly, felt confident of her team's chances in doubles.

"I felt like we'd split one of the top two, if we didn't take both of them," said Dawson. "But we were in there every point, no matter what the final score said."

The Gryphons' tandem of Marsh-Kirkpatrick, the eastern regional runners-up last week, hit the angles well and kept Ziccardi-Stone off balance through the first couple of games.

The teams traded service breaks for the first five games before Marsh-Kirkpatrick gained a little bit of momentum. Marsh hit three consecutive middle-court winners at the net and Kirkpatrick held serve for a 4-2 lead.

Marsh-Kirkpatrick reeled off six straight games before Ziccardi-Stone climbed within 8-5. Kirkpatrick, again, held serve to make it 9-5. The Gryphon duo escaped on a match-ending unforced error.

"Travis Marsh came up with some unbelievable returns off their first serves," said veteran Gryphons coach Barry Nethercutt. "Marsh has a great cross-court passing shot and ground stroke. Kirkpatrick got the balls back at the net.

"When they hit a great volley, he was there with his reflex ... just getting it back until they overhit."

Rocky Mount's No. 2 duo of Prasada-Alex Durham outlasted the Warriors' Bryant Jackson 10-7. The Gryphons' Jamie Thomas-Trey Sprye completed the sweep with a 10-3 victory at No. 3.

"My number three doubles had played their number two at the regionals (and lost in) three sets," said Nethercutt. "I felt pretty good about our threes doing well. I said someone else had to win in doubles.

"We could either win all three or squeak out of here (winning) 5-4."

It was the final dual-team match for Stone and Bryant, the two Warrior seniors. However, both will continue their respective individual seasons in the NCHSAA individual championships this weekend in Burlington. Stone will play in singles along with Ziccardi, while Bryant-Jackson will compete in doubles.

2006 N.C. High School

Athletic Association Class 3-A

Dual-Team Playoffs

Eastern quarterfinals

(at Wayne Community College)

Rocky Mount Sr. High 6

Eastern Wayne 3

Singles: No. 1 Drew Ziccardi (EW) d. Travis Marsh 6-3, 6-4; No. 2 Jared Stone (EW) d. Travis Kirkpatrick 6-2, 6-1; No. 3 Drew Jackson (EW) d. Samer Prasada 6-4, 6-2; No. 4 Jamie Thomas (RM) d. Alex Bryant 6-1, 6-2; No. 5 Alex Durham (RM) d. David Benton 6-2, 6-0; No. 6 Trey Sprye (RM) d. Ben Wines 6-2, 6-4.

Doubles: No. 1 Marsh-Kirkpatrick (RM) d. Ziccardi-Stone 10-5; No. 2 Prasada-Durham (RM) d. Bryant-Jackson 10-7; No. 3 Thomas-Sprye (RM) d. Benton-Eric Barnes 10-3.

Records: Eastern Wayne 14-3, Rocky Mount Sr. High 13-6.