04/24/08 — Aycock tennis earns conference title

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Aycock tennis earns conference title

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 24, 2008 3:54 PM

The journey from worst to first is complete.

A basement dweller two seasons ago in the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference men's tennis ranks, Charles B. Aycock now resides in the penthouse.

The Golden Falcons officially moved into their new digs on a breezy, warm Wednesday afternoon at Herman Park. The top-seeded doubles of Blake Vail-Blake Cooper claimed the decisive point in a 7-2 victory over county archrival Eastern Wayne on the John Allen Farfour Courts.

C.B. Aycock earned a share of the ECC regular-season championship -- the program's first since 1996 when it competed in the East Central 2-A Conference.

"We feel very good about that (conference title)," said Aycock head coach Kevin Coghill. "That was our goal last year, but we weren't able to accomplish it."

The Warriors made the Golden Falcons work for this one.

Aycock received four straight-set singles wins from Vail, Addison Westbrook, Ben Nichols and Dylan Quinn. However, the Golden Falcons couldn't close the deal.

Third-seeded Chris Knobling and fourth-seeded Eric Barnes each seized a third-set tiebreaker for Eastern Wayne, which suffered just its second defeat against ECC opposition in 29 tries since 2006. The duo spoiled Aycock's bid for its eighth shutout in the ECC this season and 13th overall in 18 outings.

"Chris and Eric played two of the best matches I've ever seen them play," said Eastern Wayne head coach Nancy Dawson. "Not because they won, but because they did what we asked them to do. They were focused and if they got behind, they didn't let that distract them."

Knobling aggressively attacked the net in the second set and deciding tiebreaker in a 1-6, 6-2, 10-0 win over Cooper. It was Cooper's first loss in 18 matches this season.

Barnes rallied past Ben Evans 3-6, 6-1, 11-9. Evans led 4-0 in the tiebreaker, but Barnes gained a 7-7 tie on a forehand passing shot. Barnes eventually prevailed on his second match point and avenged a loss to Evans nearly three weeks ago in Pikeville.

"I think my guys started thinking a little too much and got a little tentative," said Coghill. "They (Knobling, Barnes) had nothing to lose, came out loose, my guys got a little tight and they won."

Aycock's passiveness and Eastern Wayne's intensity carried over into doubles. The Warriors (12-5, 7-2 ECC) owned one-game advantages in the early stages at Nos. 1 and 2, while the Golden Falcons grabbed a three-game lead at No. 3.

But Eastern Wayne piled up the unforced errors and Aycock (16-2, 8-0) slowly took control. Vail-Cooper won four of the final five games against Drew Jackson-David Benton, while the No. 2 duo of Westbrook-Nichols edged Knobling-Barnes 8-6 after trailing 4-3.

Evans-Quinn finished the sweep with an 8-5 win at No. 3.

"We were in every point, every game," said Dawson. "When you play a quality team, you cannot make unforced errors. They were able to capitalize on those and that was the big thing today.

"We were competitive. I'm very pleased."