Union Pines ends C.B. Aycock's 3-A title bid
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 3, 2006 1:47 PM
CAMERON -- State-ranked Union Pines collected two key doubles points and dethroned C.B. Aycock -- the reigning N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A eastern regional champion -- by a 6-3 count Thursday afternoon.
Union Pines, rated No. 3 in the latest N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association poll, remained unbeaten in 18 matches and advanced to Saturday's state final in Burlington. The Vikings will play No. 1-ranked Hickory.
Aycock concluded the year 16-4.
"I challenged the players before the match started to play their best tennis of the season and that happened," said Golden Falcons coach Luke Vail. "It wasn't quite enough to overcome Union Pines, but it was the best match we've played all year.
"Union Pines has a total mix of shots in their game. They can go from power to finesse to drop shots. We couldn't overcome some good experience they had with three seniors in the lineup."
Union Pines, the two-time Cape Fear Valley Conference champion, emerged victorious in four singles matches. Top-seeded Neena Wanko, a freshman, turned back Aycock senior Raychel Batts 6-1, 7-5.
Batts ended her career as the Golden Falcons' all-time winningest singles player with 99 victories. She broke the school record of 88 set by Stacey Sasser.
"Wanko is on a different level," said Vail. "Raychel put up a really good effort in the second set. Wanko is a big girl and has a total game. She can do it all. It was great tennis to watch."
The Vikings' Katie Kelly and Lydia Stalls combined to lose just three games in a pair of straight-set wins. Third-seeded Natasha Whetzel nearly blew a 7-1 lead in the third-set tiebreaker against Lizzie Sodoma, but prevailed 1-6, 6-3, 10-8.
Aycock triumphed at Nos. 5 and 6 singles.
Kristen Bennett fashioned a perfect 20-0 campaign with a 6-3, 6-4 conquest of previously-unbeaten Maura Lenahan. Courtney Barnes upended Kendra Black 6-4, 6-2 and ended the year with a 19-match win streak. Black suffered her first defeat of the year.
Batts-Sodoma, the reigning eastern doubles champions, capped their prep careers with a 10-4 victory over Kelly-Whetzel at the No. 1 slot. Union Pines claimed the Nos. 2 and 3 doubles to end the Golden Falcons' season.
"It was nice to see Raychel and Lizzie win out in doubles because they've done a lot for our tennis program," said Vail. "All of our girls played good, quality tennis from beginning to end.
"I think being in the final four was a great accomplish for us after losing our middle lineup from the previous year."
Aycock finished regional runner-up for the sixth time since 1995.
2006 N.C. High School
Athletic Association Class 3-A
(at Union Pines, Cameron)
Union Pines 6
C.B. Aycock 3
Singles -- No. 1 Neena Wanko (UP) d. Raychel Batts 6-1, 7-5; No. 2 Katie Kelly (UP) d. Kristen Prosser 6-1, 6-1; No. 3 Natasha Whetzel (UP) d. Lizzie Sodoma 1-6, 6-3, 10-8; No. 4 Lydia Stalls (UP) d. Emilee Quinn 6-0, 6-1; No. 5 Kristen Bennett (CBA) d. Maura Lenahan 6-3, 6-4; No. 6 Courtney Barnes (CBA) d. Kendra Black 6-4, 6-2.
Doubles -- No. 1 Batts-Sodoma (CBA) d. Kelly-Whetzel 10-4; No. 2 Wanko-Black (UP) d. Quinn-Bennett 10-1; No. 3 Stalls-Lenahan (UP) d. Prosser-Barnes 10-3.
Records: C.B. Aycock 16-4; Union Pines 18-0.
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