03/30/07 — Eastern Wayne netters claim sole possession of ECC

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Eastern Wayne netters claim sole possession of ECC

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 30, 2007 2:14 PM

Eastern Wayne, the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference tennis king, bounced co-habitant Charles B. Aycock from its throne Thursday afternoon.

The Warriors collected two critical 10-point super tiebreakers in singles play and turned back the Golden Falcons 6-3 on the Wayne Community College courts. Eastern Wayne (7-2 overall) seized sole possession of the ECC lead at 4-0, while Aycock (7-6) suffered its first conference defeat in four tries.

"That's one albatross out of the way," said Warriors head coach Nancy Dawson. "They (C.B. Aycock) are a formidable opponent and they played well. There was not a single point that was a giveaway. We had to earn everything we got and that's okay."

Aycock head coach Kevin Coghill offered a different opinion.

"I felt like we came out today really flat," said Coghill. "Our freshmen really looked like freshmen today. Mentally they were not very strong and that was disappointing."

"We came out today maybe a little scared, maybe a little intimidated. It's always tough to play the defending (conference) champion and deal with that mystique."

Eastern Wayne collected its 13th consecutive victory against ECC opposition and improved to 25-2 in conference play since 2005.

The Warriors' David Benton and Eric Barnes, a pair of second-year starters, turned in staunch performances at Nos. 5 and 6 singles, respectively. Barnes needed less than an hour to hand Dylan Quinn a 6-0, 6-2 setback. Benton stopped Ben Nichols 6-3, 6-3.

Benton-Barnes prevailed at No. 3 doubles, also.

"I thought Eric played a very strong match and I'm pleased for him," said Dawson. "He and David both played great doubles."

Coghill echoed Dawson's praise of Barnes and Benton.

"They've got some good athletes down the line, but their five and six were really athletic," said Coghill. "It was very tough for us down low (in the lineup)."

Aycock, indeed, struggled most of the afternoon.

Golden Falcon freshman Addison Westbrook capitalized on numerous unforced errors in the opening set against the Warriors' Drew Jackson. But Jackson smartly limited his mistakes in the second set and forced the super tiebreaker.

Westbrook couldn't regain any momentum as Jackson triumphed 4-6, 6-2, 10-0.

"I don't know what was going on with him the first set. Even he couldn't explain it when I tried to talk to him," said Dawson of Jackson. "But I think he played an outstanding second set and tiebreaker."

Third-seeded Ben Wines rebounded from a second-set loss and dealt Aycock's Ben Evans a 7-5, 2-6, 12-10 defeat. Wines fended off one match point in the super tiebreaker and finally gained an advantage at 11-10.

Wines and Evans traded 38 volleys on their second match point before Evans mishit a forehand return.

The Golden Falcons picked up singles wins from freshman Blake Vail and Blake Cooper. Vail remained unbeaten in 13 outings with a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-2, 10-4 decision over Warrior senior Jared Stone. The fourth-seeded Cooper shut out Christian Pfuhl in the first set and escaped 6-0, 7-6 (2).

Aycock trailed 4-2 heading into doubles.

"I think our mindset would have been different in doubles," said Coghill. "It's really tough to win three doubles in a row. It's tough mentally to go out and play well when it's like that."

Stone-Jackson secured the overall outcome with an 8-3 win over Vail-Westbrook. Stone, who lifted weights earlier in the day, battled with leg cramps during the latter stages of the match. That forced Jackson to play both sides of the court, unless either Vail or Westbrook hit a ball directly to Stone.

Aycock's Evans-Quinn took the No. 2 doubles 8-4.

Dawson said the addition of Vail and Westbrook gave the Golden Falcons a dimension they missed last season. She added that Evans, Cooper and Nichols -- all returning starters -- bring a year's experience to the lineup.

"They've got a reason to want to win and that's not a reflection on the coach from last year," said Dawson. "They just had a down year and believe me, I've been through those before myself. His No. 1 (Vail) has the capability of being very strong.

"They've got a good deal there."

The county rivals conclude first-half ECC play Tuesday. Eastern Wayne is the guest of Kinston, while C.B. Aycock travels to Southern Wayne.

Eastern Wayne 6

C.B. Aycock 3

Singles -- No. 1 Blake Vail (CBA) d. Jared Stone 4-6, 6-2, 10-4; No. 2 Drew Jackson (EW) d. Addison Westbrook 4-6, 6-2, 10-0; No. 3 Ben Wines (EW) d. Ben Evans 7-5, 2-6, 12-10; No. 4 Blake Cooper (CBA) d. Christian Pfuhl 6-0, 7-6 (2); No. 5 David Benton (EW) d. Ben Nichols 6-3, 6-3; No. 6 Eric Barnes (EW) d. Dylan Quinn 6-0, 6-2.

Doubles -- No. 1 Stone-Jackson (EW) d. Vail-Westbrook 8-3; No. 2 Evans-Quinn (CBA) d. Wines-Pfuhl 8-4; No. 3 Benton-Barnes (EW) d. Cooper-Nichols 8-5.

Records: Eastern Wayne 7-2, 4-0 Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference; C.B. Aycock 7-6, 3-1 ECC.