08/07/06 — Goldsboro men's 4.0 senior tennis team prepping for national title run

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Goldsboro men's 4.0 senior tennis team prepping for national title run

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on August 7, 2006 2:10 PM

Tennis is usually considered an individual sport. Or in doubles, two-on-two.

But the Goldsboro Country Club men's senior 4.0 tennis team is exactly that -- a team.

In a format that features a best-of-3 in three lines of doubles matches, the local squad fashions a 21-0 mark as they have stormed through district, state and sectional play.

The same format will be used when the team opens play in the USTA League National Championships on Oct. 13-15 in Palm Springs, Calif. Goldsboro, which recently captured the Southern sectional in Charleston, S.C., will be one-of-17 teams vying for the national title.

Despite the undefeated record, team captain Carl Steed admits advancing to California was far from easy -- especially in Charleston where Goldsboro needed three, third-set tiebreakers to get past Louisiana.

"It's a lot of pressure. If you lose, it's your loss in singles, but we're playing as a team," said captain Carl Steed.

Steed, Ricky Herring, Danny Phillips, Marion Edwards, John Collins, Monte Dell, Chuck Kirk, Tony Pereira, Doug Simmons and Jerry Fox make up the team. The group are essentially 10 of the last 250 men playing at the senior 4.0 level heading into the national championships.

At the start of the season, there were 10,000 participants across the country.

"We've got a diverse group ... from a dentist to a yard care specialist," Steed said. "We've come together and played tennis well to be undefeated for the year. The strength of our team is we are strong from top-to-bottom. Most teams may have certain tandems that are a lot stronger than others."

Only Collins and Kirk have competed in the national championships previously, but Steed and Herring both played tennis at Campbell University. Edwards and Phillips were former standouts at Goldsboro High as Phillips went on to be an All-American at Atlantic Christian (now Barton College). Most of the team has considerable competitive experience in some sport, including Simmons, who played basketball at Mount Olive College.

"All these guys are past athletes in high school or college. That competitive drive is important," Steed said.

Goldsboro will face Northern Cal in its first match on Oct. 13. Hawaii and Midwest are also in Goldsboro's flight.

"We had a goal to achieve to win the sectionals, and now we have a goal to achieve to win the nationals, but we'll have to win our flight first," Steed said.