CBA netters reach East 3-A regional final
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 1, 2006 1:47 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Courtney Barnes is not a gambler in tight, close matches.
She prefers a passive style, and favors banging balls back and forth until her opponent makes a mistake. But Eastern Wayne's Elizabeth Borden stubbornly refused to succumb to Barnes' strategy during their third-set tiebreaker Tuesday evening.
Borden calmly matched Barnes point for point in the early stages. Leading 4-3, Barnes switched tactics and pounced on two short balls at the net. Both shots produced winners and a three-set victory -- the final singles point Charles B. Aycock needed to turn back the Warriors 5-1.
The Golden Falcons (16-4) earned their third consecutive trip to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A eastern regional championship, and 10th appearance overall since 1995. They'll travel to Cameron Union Pines, which ousted previously-unbeaten Wilson Fike 5-4, on Thursday.
Eastern Wayne concluded its most-historic season at 13-4 on the 3-A level.
Aycock had to avoid playing overconfident against a team it swept during regular-season play. The Golden Falcons needed at least one point in doubles in both meetings to secure a win.
"Eastern Wayne is a very enthusiastic, hard-playing team," said Golden Falcons coach Luke Vail. "They're going to come out and give you their best shot. That's what they did early on and they played really hard.
"Our girls were up and ready for the challenge, and responded well."
Barnes certainly did.
The first-year starter zipped by Borden 6-1 in the opening set. Borden claimed a tension-filled, second-set tiebreaker to force the decisive, 10-point super tiebreaker on the John Neal Walker Tennis Complex courts.
The players traded unforced errors and battled to a 3-3 deadlock. Borden mishit a forehand return into the net and fell behind 4-3. She never recovered.
Barnes charged the net on back-to-back points and connected on a drop volley to make it 5-3. She put away another volley to the deep left corner that Borden nearly chased down.
"In the third set, you don't want to gamble, you want to get the shot and point," said Barnes. "At the end I started making some shots ... playing a little more aggressive.
"That's a lot of pressure right there. It was very nerve-racking. I really didn't think I was going to pull it out."
Barnes eventually prevailed 6-1, 6-7 (4), 10-5 and Aycock beat Eastern Wayne for the 13th time since the Eastern Carolina Conference's inception in 2001.
"Courtney did a very good job of gutting out a nice win," said Vail. "When you lose one tiebreaker and then turn around to play another tiebreaker for the third set, it's tough mentally to prepare yourself quickly.
"(When) she made some shots at the net, that put pressure on Elizabeth and turned the match in her favor."
Eastern Wayne coach Nancy Dawson, whose team was making its first-ever Elite Eight appearance, couldn't fault Borden's effort. Borden threw a kink in Southern Alamance's armor last week, and earned a key singles point.
"I thought Elizabeth played absolutely spectacular," said a smiling Dawson. "She has matured beyond belief in that position and has been very coachable. She's done a terrific job for us all year."
Aycock played its normal style -- consistent groundstrokes with constant pressure on serve returns. The Golden Falcons hit their fare share of unforced errors on a partly-sunny day, but also controlled the important points.
Dawson said the overall match scores didn't indicate the closeness of each singles match.
"We just didn't finish off the points like we wanted to," she said.
Top-seeded Raychel Batts recorded career win No. 99 with a 6-1, 6-0 decision over the Warriors' Lauren Bynum. Kristen Prosser upended Mollie Musgrave 6-2, 6-3 at the No. 2 slot, and third-seeded Lizzie Sodoma stopped Casie Musgrave 6-1, 6-1. Fifth-seeded Kristen Bennett improved to 19-0 with a 6-1, 6-2 conquest of Nicole Fine.
"Kristen Prosser gave us a good win and today was her best match of the year," said Vail. "Kristen Bennett has been money in the bank for us all year. She continues to deliver a good solid performance every time out at number five."
The Warriors' Lindsey Frederick avoided Aycock's shutout bid with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Emilee Quinn.
"Lindsey has done what it takes to get the job done all year at number four," said Dawson. "I'm as proud of my girls as any group that I've ever had. I found no fault in anything they did.
"They were determined; not afraid to get out there and play."
2006 N.C. High School
Athletic Association Class 3-A
Women's Dual-Team Tennis
(at John Neal Walker Complex, MOC)
C.B. Aycock 5
Eastern Wayne 1
Singles -- No. 1 Raychel Batts (CBA) d. Lauren Bynum 6-1, 6-0; No. 2 Kristen Prosser (CBA) d. Mollie Musgrave 6-2, 6-3; No. 3 Lizzie Sodoma (CBA) d. Casie Musgrave 6-1, 6-1; No. 4 Lindsey Frederick (EW) d. Emilee Quinn 6-1, 6-0; No. 5 Kristen Bennett (CBA) d. Nicole Fine 6-1, 6-2; No. 6 Courtney Barnes (CBA) d. Elizabeth Borden 6-1, 6-7 (4), 10-5.
Doubles -- Not contested.
Records: C.B. Aycock 16-3; Eastern Wayne 13-4.
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