09/22/06 — Eastern Wayne netters upend So. Wayne

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Eastern Wayne netters upend So. Wayne

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 22, 2006 2:19 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The Eastern Wayne women's tennis team spends every Friday practice working on tiebreaker situations.

The drills certainly paid significant dividends Thursday afternoon. Eastern Wayne seized two of three tiebreakers in singles play and turned back county rival Southern Wayne 7-2 on the John Neal Walker Tennis Complex courts at Mount Olive College.

The Warriors improved to 7-1 overall and 5-1 against Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference opposition. The Saints (6-4, 2-4 ECC) endured their fourth consecutive defeat in league play.

"We go over tiebreakers in practice so when they get into those situations, it's not foreign to them," said veteran Warriors coach Nancy Dawson. "We lost four (tiebreakers) at Hunt earlier in the season and I thought 'we can play our points, but can we stay focused for that amount of time?'

"Going to the super tiebreaker this year, I know makes the match more competitive, but it's changed what the girls are used to. They were used to the magic number seven and now you have to get 10 (points)."

Dawson started to fret a little, and paced back and forth between two courts when the super tiebreakers began. She counted the points on her fingers and watched quietly -- almost agonizingly -- as each tiebreaker progressed.

Second-seeded Mollie Musgrave forged a 9-9 tie in her super tiebreaker against the Saints' Katlyn Thornton. Musgrave hit a deep passing shot to earn match point at 10-9. Thornton benefited from an unforced error, but couldn't take advantage and hit consecutive unforced errors of her own.

Musgrave won 6-1, 5-7, 12-10.

Southern Wayne's Amber Bowden erased a second-set deficit against Casie Musgrave and took the traditional tiebreaker 7-4. Bowden won several points off her serve in the super tiebreaker and eventually defeated Musgrave 0-6, 7-6 (4), 10-7.

At No. 5 singles, first-year varsity performer Nicole Fine captured a second-set tiebreaker and nipped the Saints' Brianna Lofton 6-3, 7-6 (5).

"Winning those two tiebreakers really pleased me," said Dawson. "Two out of three is not bad."

The two nail-biting tiebreakers gave Eastern Wayne a 4-2 edge heading into doubles. The top-seeded tandem of Lauren Bynum-C. Musgrave decided the match's overall outcome with an 8-3 triumph against the Saints' Tara Hirsch-Bowden. The duos of M. Musgrave-Lindsey Frederick and Elizabeth Borden- Emily Northington won 8-3 and 8-4, respectively.

"My girls started out slow and came around, especially in the second sets," said eighth-year Southern Wayne coach Brad Matthews. "The girls fought hard, came back. Winning the tiebreaker at number two could have made a big difference in the match.

"Amber did a good job of finding out her girls' weaknesses and that helped her."

Frederick posted a shutout at No. 4 singles and Elizabeth Borden earned a straight-set decision at No. 6 singles for the Warriors.

Sophomore Tara Hirsch, the Saints' top seed, survived a late first-set slump and stopped the hard-hitting Bynum 7-5, 6-4. Bynum rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the opening set and broke Hirsch's serve to gain a 5-5 tie.

Hirsch won the next two games to close out the set.

Bynum held serve to start the second set and pounded groundstroke after groundstoke at Hirsch. A returning state singles qualifier, Hirsch eventually pulled ahead 5-4.

"She's smart and knows what to do," said Matthews. "She started hitting some (shots) to the corners, working Bynum back and forth ... went back to her game.

"Tara is a competitor and does not like to lose. She's going to fight you to the last point."

Hirsch required three match points to take the second set and complete her regular-season sweep of Bynum. The two needed a third-set tiebreaker to determine the victor in their previous meeting 10 days ago at Wayne Community College. Hirsch collected her ninth win in 10 tries and climbed to 5-1 against ECC opposition.

The Warriors defeated the Saints for the 12th time in 12 outings since the ECC's inception in 2001.

"I wanted the girls to compete with them and keep it close," said Matthews. "If you can keep it close, the match can go one way for the other. I see some of the success we're having now and my girls are playing with some confidence."

Eastern Wayne 7

Southern Wayne 2

Singles -- No. 1 Tara Hirsch (SW) d. Lauren Bynum 7-5, 6-4; No. 2 Mollie Musgrave (EW) d. Katlyn Thornton 6-1, 5-7, 12-10; No. 3 Amber Bowden (SW) d. Casie Musgrave 0-6, 7-6 (4), 10-7; No. 4 Lindsey Frederick (EW) d. April Tucker 6-0, 6-0; No. 5 Nicole Fine (EW) d. Brianna Lofton 6-3, 7-6 (5); No. 6 Elizabeth Borden (EW) d. Whitli Thornton 6-2, 6-1.

Doubles -- No. 1 Bynum-C. Musgrave (EW) d. Hirsch-Bowden 8-3; No. 2 M. Musgrave-Frederick (EW) d. K. Thornton-Tucker 8-3; No. 3 Borden-Emily Northington (EW) d. Lofton-Emily Martin 8-4.

Records: Eastern Wayne 7-1, 5-1 Eastern Carolina 3-A; Southern Wayne 6-4, 2-4 ECC.