03/08/07 — Warrior tennis falls

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Warrior tennis falls

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 8, 2007 2:54 PM

Two defeats against quality Class 4-A men's tennis programs this season hasn't forced Nancy Dawson to hit the panic button ... yet.

But the veteran Eastern Wayne coach is concerned and probably has that button close at hand after Wednesday afternoon. The Warriors competed without their No. 2 seed for the second consecutive match and suffered another blow when Ken Lam sustained a freak eye injury.

The key losses proved costly in a 7-1, non-conference loss to the Bears on the Wayne Community College courts. New Bern, a dual-team playoff qualifier last season, improved to 2-1 overall.

Eastern Wayne dropped to 3-2 overall.

"I'm really not upset about the match, but I didn't think we'd get beat that badly," said Dawson. "The boys are still playing like young players. When they get to the point where they get the desire to win, they're going to be tough to be reckoned with."

New Bern swept the singles matches and needed less than 90 minutes to seal the road win. Top-seeded Blake Clemmons dispatched Warrior senior Jared Stone 6-1, 6-1.

Stone struggled with his first serve and hit uncharacteristic unforced errors in the blustery conditions. Clemmons mixed up his style of play, and converted either baseline or net winners during his straight-set victory.

"Blake is real aggressive and always plays tough on hardcourts," said New Bern head coach Ed Campbell. "He likes to serve and volley whereas most guys these days don't like to play the net.

"Blake prefers to get up to the net and I think that is one thing that makes him effective. He puts pressure on you if you hit short balls."

Clemmons, a senior, earned two break points during the first four games of the opening set. He won 9 of 11 points en route to a 3-0 lead.

Stone regained one break point when Clemmons committed three consecutive double faults on serve. But Stone returned the favor with a game-ending double fault of his own and Clemmons eventually closed out the first set 6-1.

The second set mirrored the first and Clemmons built another three-game advantage. Stone continued to misfire on forehand and backhand returns, and endured his third loss at the No. 1 slot this season.

Clemmons avenged a straight-set defeat against Stone in their lone meeting last year.

"He certainly played a great match," Dawson said of Clemmons.

New Bern picked up straight-set wins at Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 6 singles.

Lam played the No. 5 slot and his injury occurred during the opening set against Bryan Finlayson. The Warrior senior fired a return and the motion from his swing caused the racquet to break the left lens in his glasses, and cut the outer edge of the eyelid.

Lam walked off the court with an icepack on his eye to help reduce the swelling and ease the blood flow. Dawson feared a small sliver of glass might have gotten lodged in the eyelid. After waiting for his parents, Lam was transported to Immediate Care.

"He received two stitches," said Dawson.

Darkness forced the suspension of the No. 1 doubles match, which was tied at 7-7. The Warriors' tandem of Stone-David Benton prevailed 8-6 at No. 2 against the Bears' Adam Brian-Warren Byrd.

Will Kastner replaced Lam at No. 3 doubles and he, along with partner Eric Barnes, dropped a close 8-5 decision.

"We've got to play these more difficult teams if we want to have some success in the regionals and the other (dual-team playoffs)," said Dawson. "They have played a good 4-A team and one decent 4-A team. It will help them if they let it help them."

New Bern 7

Eastern Wayne 1

Singles -- No. 1 Blake Clemmons (NB) d. Jared Stone 6-1, 6-1; No. 2 John Chapman (NB) d. Ben Wines 6-0, 6-1; No. 3 Isaac Clowers (NB) d. Christian Phufl 7-5, 6-0; No. 4 Jake Fitzgerald (NB) d. Eric Barnes 6-2, 6-1; No. 5 Bryan Finlayson (NB) d. Ken Lam, ret. inj.; No. 6 Cameron Hendricks (NB) d. Will Kastner 6-1, 6-4.

Doubles -- No. 2 Stone-David Benton (EW) d. Adam Brian-Warren Byrd 8-6; No. 3 John Finlayson-Judd McCaden (NB) d. Kastner-Barnes 8-5.

Note: No. 1 doubles ended in 7-7 tie due to darkness.