11/02/07 — East Champions -- Warriors turn back Gryphons in doubles

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East Champions -- Warriors turn back Gryphons in doubles

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 2, 2007 2:46 PM

Play aggressive.

Work smart on each point.

Ignore the fear factor.

Eastern Wayne's top-seeded tandem of Lauren Bynum-Casie Musgrave made that strategy look easy Thursday evening. Dominant from the opening serve, the duo pulled off a stunning upset and helped the Warriors continue their phenomenal postseason run.

Bynum-Musgrave edged Rocky Mount's Ashley Pearsall-Caroline Gray, the 2007 state runners-up, 10-8 on the John Allen Farfour courts. Teammates Danielle Daniel-Kelsi Yates polished off Eastern Wayne's first-ever eastern regional dual-team title with a 10-4 decision at No. 3 doubles.

The 5-3 triumph catapulted the Warriors into the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A title match Saturday at the Burlington Tennis Center. Eastern Wayne (17-1 overall) opposes Charlotte Catholic at 9 a.m.

Facing the newly-crowned eastern regional champions intimidated Bynum-Musgrave at first. But once the duo settled into a rhythm, they seized a commanding 4-1 lead against Pearsall-C. Gray.

"We went out there aggressive and knew we couldn't make mistakes like we have in the past with previous teams," said Bynum. "We wanted to annihilate those mistakes because if you lose too many points, you can quickly get down.

"We knew they were a hard team to beat. We were intimidated, but we felt like we had to get it done. I think we did save our best for last."

Pearsall-C. Gray pulled within 9-8, but Bynum-C. Musgrave quickly raced to triple match point on Pearsall's serve. Bynum dropped a two-handed, backhand return into the net at love-40.

"That was the shot I wanted and it always seems that I miss it the most on game point," said Bynum. "I probably wanted it too much. I just needed to relax there and swing through the ball."

Musgrave clinched the match when Gray couldn't get a racquet on a soft lob to midcourt.

Seconds later, Daniel-Yates faced match point at No. 3. The duo squandered one opportunity to close out the match, but didn't waste their second chance. Yates hit a low shot that the Gryphons could not return and the Warriors completed their shocking upset of the state's top-ranked team.

"They played doubles better than we did," said Rocky Mount coach Barry Nethercutt. "I thought we had a great chance winning one and two (doubles), but not much chance at three. They hit some great balls when we came in (to the net) and made us hit defensive volleys.

"When we did hit good volleys, they reflexed them back. They just played a great match ... singles and doubles."

The teams needed three-plus hours to split the six singles points.

Rocky Mount (19-3) secured wins at the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 spots. Despite losing a three-game advantage in the second set, Caroline Gray stopped Bynum 7-6 (1), 7-5. Kate Gray defeated Mollie Musgrave 6-0, 6-1, while Addie Keeter stopped Casie Musgrave 6-1, 6-4.

Top-seeded Lindsey Frederick emerged victorious for the Warriors with a 6-0, 6-3 conquest of Pearsall. Daniel dumped Hannah Becilla 6-1, 6-1.

But Elizabeth Borden earned the most crucial singles point of the day for Eastern Wayne. After letting the second set slip from her grasp, Borden refused to succumb to frustration and rebounded with an impressive, third-set tiebreaker effort.

She didn't yield a point in handing Margaret Arroyo a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (7), 10-0 loss at the No. 6 slot.

"Coach (Dawson) said to think good thoughts and close out the points when possible," said Borden. "She was consistent at the baseline and it was tough to hit winners because she got everything back. I just kept it in play ... had to be patient.

"I didn't need to get frustrated like I did in the second set. I knew I'd lose focus and lose the match."

Borden wasn't aware who held the overall match lead during her 3-hour, 10-minute duel with Arroyo. She just concerned herself with moving Arroyo around the court and picking the right time to end a point.

"I did feel some pressure because I didn't know how the rest of my teammates had done," said Borden. "Honestly, I tried not to focus on that and just play my match."

Ranked No. 8 in the latest N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association poll, the Warriors became the fifth Wayne County team to advance to the dual-team championships. Goldsboro captured the 4-A title in 1990, the inaugural year of the dual-team playoffs.

Charles B. Aycock appeared in four finals and claimed the 2-A crown in 1997. Spring Creek and Rosewood finished the 1-A runner-up in 2002 and 2003, respectively.

2007 N.C. High School

Athletic Association Class 3-A

Women's Dual-Team Tennis

Eastern Championship

(at Herman Park)

Eastern Wayne 5

Rocky Mount 3

Singles: No. 1 Lindsey Frederick (EW) d. Ashley Pearsall 6-0, 6-3; No. 2 Caroline Gray (RM) d. Lauren Bynum 7-6 (1), 7-5; No. 3 Kate Gray (RM) d. Mollie Musgrave 6-0, 6-1; No. 4 Addie Keeter (RM) d. Casie Musgrave 6-1, 6-4; No. 5 Danielle Daniel (RM) d. Hannah Becilla 6-1, 6-1; No. 6 Elizabeth Borden (EW) d. Margaret Arroyo 7-6 (4), 6-7 (7), 10-0.

Doubles: No. 1 Bynum-C. Musgrave (EW) d. Pearsall-C. Gray 10-8; No. 3 Daniel-Kelsi Yates (EW) d. Becilla-Arroyo 10-4.

Records: Eastern Wayne 17-1, Rocky Mount 19-3.