Warriors claim share of league crown
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 3, 2007 3:17 PM
The 27-year reign is over.
There is a new Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference tennis queen.
Eastern Wayne clinched a share of the league championship in dramatic and exhausting fashion Tuesday evening. The third-seeded tandem of Danielle Daniel-Kelsi Yates staged an improbable comeback as the Warriors prevailed 5-4 over archrival Charles B. Aycock at Herman Park.
A win over Southern Wayne today gives Eastern Wayne (10-1 overall, 7-0 ECC) the title outright and breaks Aycock's nearly three-decade stranglehold of league supremacy. The Golden Falcons (11-7, 7-2) lost for just the second time in their last 309 conference outings.
"It was a hardfought match from beginning to end," said Aycock head coach Luke Vail. "We played well enough to have won and I congratulate Eastern Wayne on their fine play and determination to win.
"This match came down to the big points."
None were bigger than those played at No. 3 doubles.
With title hopes hanging in the balance for both teams, Daniel-Yates lost their rhythm and fell behind 7-4 against Aycock's Jessica Davis-Mallory Strickland. Daniel-Yates regained their composure, and slowly climbed back into the match with steady play at the net and from the baseline.
The three-game deficit quickly turned into a 7-7 tie.
"We put a lot of trust in each other and we communicate well," said Daniel, a sophomore. "We knew we had to play smart and do what we needed to do (to win)."
Davis double-faulted twice to put Daniel-Yates ahead 8-7. The teams traded unforced errors and when Davis hit a forehand return long on match point, the grueling five-hour affair was over.
"The adrenaline started pumping and we wanted to prove that the last time we beat them wasn't a fluke," said Yates. "We think they had more pressure, but we didn't want to let our teammates down. We wanted to keep the ball in play and let them make the mistakes."
The teams needed three hours to decide the six singles matches.
Aycock's Emilee Quinn and Eastern Wayne's Mollie Musgrave put on a war at No. 3 singles. They pounded out hard ground strokes each other before Quinn prevailed 6-2, 6-2 and avenged a three-set loss nearly three weeks ago.
Second-seeded Courtney Barnes built 3-0 leads in each set against the Warriors' Lauren Bynum, but needed two tiebreakers to also avenge a previous loss. Barnes escaped 6-4, 6-7 (5), 10-7.
Fourth-seeded Kristen Bennett, like Quinn and Barnes, also gained some revenge. The senior turned back Casie Musgrave 7-6 (1), 2-6, 10-4.
Eastern Wayne's Daniel and Emily Northington collected straight-set singles wins at Nos. 5 and 6, respectively. However, the No. 1 singles match proved especially critical for the Warriors, who hadn't lost at home all season.
Lindsey Frederick claimed a come-from-behind 7-6 (8), 4-6, 10-2 decision over the Golden Falcons' Kristen Prosser. Prosser let a three-game advantage slip away in the opening set and nearly squandered a 5-0 advantage in the second set.
Frederick kept every ball in play and capitalized on Prosser's mistakes. Prosser, a senior, started cramping in the third-set tiebreaker and took an injury timeout. She guzzled down a few packs of mustard to ease the pain in her right leg and left thigh, but couldn't regain her composure as darkness descended on the Wayne Community College courts.
The teams entered doubles tied at 3-3 and the coaches agreed to finish under the lights at Herman Park.
"Our objective was (win) four singles at least," said Warriors coach Nancy Dawson. "If we can't get four, we have to split because that's our only choice. Lindsay did exactly what she had to do, played her game and did what she's learned on the court."
Frederick-Mollie Musgrave, the reigning ECC doubles champions, cruised to an 8-4 victory at No. 2 doubles. Aycock tied the match at 4-4 when Barnes-Quinn routed Bynum-C. Musgrave 8-2 at the No. 1 slot.
Davis-Strickland kept a one-game advantage throughout against Daniel-Yates. But Daniel converted several winners at the net and Yates covered the baseline well to give the Warriors their first-ever, regular-season championship in program history.
"Those girls have a lot of heart," said Dawson of Daniel-Yates. "Aycock came ready to play. They wanted this match very, very much and were determined when they stepped onto the court. I'm proud of my girls, regardless of what the score might have been."
Eastern Wayne grabbed the No. 1 seed for the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team playoffs, which begin mid-October. Aycock is the No. 2 seed for the first time since the association implemented the dual-team format in 1990.
"Our players left it all out on the courts," said Vail. "It was by far our best effort of the season."
Eastern Wayne 5
C.B. Aycock 4
Singles: No. 1 Lindsey Frederick (EW) d. Kristen Prosser 7-6 (8), 4-6, 10-4; No. 2 Courtney Barnes (CBA) d. Lauren Bynum 6-4, 6-7 (5), 10-7; No. 3 Emilee Quinn (CBA) d. Mollie Musgrave 6-2, 6-2; No. 4 Kristen Bennett (CBA) d. Casie Musgrave 7-6 (1), 2-6, 10-4; No. 5 Danielle Daniel (EW) d. Jessica Davis 6-3, 6-1; No. 6 Elizabeth Borden (EW) d. Jessica Davis 6-2, 6-1.
Doubles: No. 1 Barnes-Quinn (CBA) d. Bynum-C. Musgrave 8-2; No. 2 Frederick-M. Musgrave (EW) d. Prosser-Bennett 8-4; No. 3 Daniel-Kelsi Yates (EW) d. Davis-Strickland 9-7.
Records: Eastern Wayne 10-1, 7-0 Eastern Carolina 3-A; C.B. Aycock 11-7, 7-2 ECC.
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