Early-season thriller - C.B. Aycock netters nip Greene Central
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 25, 2006 2:38 PM
PIKEVILLE -- The women's tennis coaches from Charles B. Aycock and Greene Central headed into Thursday afternoon's intra-county battle searching for numerous answers, particularly in doubles, about their respective teams.
Aycock might have satisfied its concerns.
Greene Central is still searching.
The Golden Falcons, in rare fashion, swept the doubles and turned back the Rams 5-4 in a four-hour, 17-minute marathon on the Aycock courts. Greene Central fell to 0-3 for the first time since 1993, while Aycock evened its worksheet at 1-1.
"Considering what both teams had experienced coming in, it was a well-played match," said Greene Central head coach Donald Clark. "Certainly neither one of us have as much talent as we've had in the past and we don't play at the same level. It was dead a little bit (early), but once we got to number five and six singles, and doubles, it was (typical) Greene Central-C.B. Aycock tennis."
The Rams, the reigning Class 2-A state champions, return just one starter -- senior Brittany Horton -- from a year ago. Horton played No. 5 singles last season and moved to No. 1. Clark has five new faces among the top six, including three freshmen in the 4-6 slots.
C.B. Aycock, last year's 3-A state runner-up, returns three starters. Senior Raychel Batts is not playing singles, which has forced Vail to move everyone up one spot in the lineup. Lizzie Sodoma and Kristen Prosser, who also return, play Nos. 1 and 2 respectively. Four juniors, who all played junior varsity last season, fill out the lineup.
"I thought the whole match today was a well-played match for this time of the season," said C.B. Aycock head coach Luke Vail. "In singles, we were inconsistent on the big points. That was the real difference because we lost two tiebreaks that if we had won, we would have had a little more momentum going into doubles."
Greene Central led 4-2 heading into doubles.
Horton erased an 0-3 second-set deficit and dealt Sodoma a 6-3, 6-4 loss. Horton climbed in front 4-3 and held onto a service break to go up 5-4. Sodoma cruised ahead 40-love on her serve in the next game, but couldn't keep the momentum.
"I tried to be more patient and wait for her mistake," said Horton. "That's all I could do because I couldn't waste any more points. I just tried to hit the ball back and see what she would do.
"(No. 1) has been a challenge. I had to get a lot better; adapt to it and be more patient. I do not like playing patient. I like hitting the ball and getting the point over with, but it doesn't work like that at number one."
Carraway and Cally Hudson, who took a first-set tiebreaker, each claimed a straight-set win for the Rams. Sixth-seeded Abby Sugg outlasted Aycock's Kara Kelly 6-4, 1-6, 7-4. It was Kelly's first-ever varsity start.
Fourth-seeded Kristen Bennett and fifth-seeded Courtney Barnes each captured straight-set victories for the Golden Falcons.
The intensity picked up in doubles.
"Luke's girls played well, particularly in doubles. They were aggressive and didn't make too many mistakes," said Clark. "Every team I had out there, except for No. three, hasn't played together but once. I had no idea what we were going to do.
"With the tradition of C.B. Aycock, I was a little concerned about coming over here and getting blown out. We've had two tough losses this week and our program is not used to losing. The girls gave it everything they had and I couldn't ask for anything more."
Aycock forged a 4-4 tie in doubles. The No. 2 tandem of Bennett-Emilee Quinn and No. 3 duo of Prosser-Barnes each seized an 8-4 win. Neither team had played together until they stepped out onto the court against the Rams.
"(Nos. 2 and 3) were make-shift teams and I couldn't be more proud of the effort they gave to come out with wins," said Vail. "They all played really well together. I was trying to put players together that I thought their games would match up; personalities would work well.
"Our doubles play was exceptional, especially on the big points."
Sodoma-Batts had a little tougher time. They took a 1-0 lead against Horton-Carraway, but struggled in the serve-and-volley game and couldn't hold onto their serve.
The teams traded games and Sodoma-Batts finally grabbed the lead at 7-6. Horton held serve for the 7-7 tie and Sodoma served a love game to put Aycock back in front 8-7.
Clark called that the turning point.
"If we had won that game, the pressure would have been on them," he said.
Batts ripped back-to-back smashes at the net to give Aycock a 40-love advantage. An unforced error allowed Horton-Carraway to pull within 40-15.
Sodoma cranked a forehand shot into the alley and Carraway stretched for a return, but couldn't get her racquet on it. Sodoma-Batts prevailed 9-7 and helped C.B. Aycock avoid an 0-2 start for the first time in at least a decade.
"Our team saw a real test of character and passed with flying colors today, because you find out what kind of heart and desire players have when they're down 4-2 going into doubles," said Vail. "Very seldom do you come back to win all three doubles. That's a rarity when it happens."
Then again, that's Greene Central-C.B. Aycock tennis at its finest.
C.B. Aycock 5
Greene Central 4
Singles -- No. 1 Brittany Horton (GC) d. Lizzie Sodoma 6-3, 6-4; No. 2 Sara Beth Carraway (GC) d. Kristen Prosser 6-3, 7-5; No. 3 Cally Hudson (GC) d. Emilee Quinn 7-6 (2), 6-2; No. 4 Kristen Bennett (CBA) d. Samantha Taylor 6-2, 6-4; No. 6 Abby Sugg (GC) d. Kara Kelly 6-4, 1-6, 7-4.
Doubles -- No. 1 Sodoma-Raychel Batts (CBA) d. Horton-Carraway 9-7; No. 2 Quinn-Bennett (CBA) d. Taylor-Dana Spivey 8-4; No. 3 Prosser-Barnes (CBA) d. McLawhorn-Ashley Grant 8-4.
Records: C.B. Aycock 1-1, Greene Central 0-3.
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