04/11/08 — AG tennis aces Spring Creek

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AG tennis aces Spring Creek

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 11, 2008 3:14 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Grunts punctuated groundstrokes.

Close shots drew either groans or sighs of relief.

And while each individual match resulted in a win or loss, Class 1-A Carolina Conference men's tennis rivals Spring Creek and Ayden-Grifton undoubtedly staged a fun-filled contest Thursday afternoon.

The Chargers prevailed 7-2 and remained unbeaten in six outings this season, while the youth-laden Gators dropped to 0-2 overall.

"Every match was close," said Spring Creek coach Robert Jones. "When you look down the line and saw each court score separated by one game, it was a fun match to watch.

"A lot of the fans couldn't figure out which match to watch. All the kids were competitive with each other and you could see their nerves get tight on the tense points."

The teams dueled through five tiebreakers in singles play.

Spring Creek got three-set victories from sophomore Colby Strickland and junior Douglas Boltinhouse. Each won their opening set, but watched their respective opponent storm back for a second-set win.

Jones said the short break between tiebreakers eased each players' nerves.

"I told them to calm down," said Jones. "It's a new set, focus and do the thing they did the first set. Both turned impatient the second set and thought maybe their opponent might give up a little bit and give it to them.

"They sure didn't do that and kept the ball in play."

Strickland and Boltinhouse each regained their composure in the 10-point tiebreakers, and played patient point for point. Each had better groundstrokes and used that to their advantage.

"Colby and Douglas played well in the tiebreaker," said Jones.

Ayden-Grifton seized a first-set tiebreaker at No. 1 singles and needed three sets to emerge victorious at No. 6 singles. The Chargers earned straight-set decisions at Nos. 2 and 5 singles.

"Ayden-Grifton has got a very good team," said Jones. "(Coach) Charles Miller has done a fine job with them. They've improved leaps and bounds since last year."

The Chargers (2-0 Carolina) swept the doubles.

Spring Creek competed without senior Alex Dunmire, who sustained an injury at school on Wednesday. Jones isn't sure when Dunmire will return and his loss depletes a lineup already full of inexperienced players.

"We're fairly young, especially today without Dunmire in the lineup," said Jones. "It might have different story at five and six singles, but you never know. Overall, I was very pleased with our play.

"It's great to see the kids compete like that, but at the same time, I know we're going to have growing pains this year."

The Gators opened their season with a 6-3 loss to reigning Carolina champion North Johnston. Strickland, Daniel Richter and Matt Richter each prevailed in singles.

The Panthers swept the doubles.