04/24/09 — ECC crown successfully defended

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ECC crown successfully defended

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 24, 2009 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- King me.

State-ranked Charles B. Aycock polished off its second consecutive Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference men's tennis crown with a 9-0, senior day triumph over county rival Southern Wayne on a sun-splashed and warm Thursday afternoon.

The Golden Falcons (12-1 overall, 10-0 ECC) secured the league's No. 1 seed for the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team playoffs, which begin May 4. C.B. Aycock will entertain a wild-card entry during opening-round action in the 16-team eastern draw.

"I'm proud of the guys ... came out focused today," said third-year CBA head coach Kevin Coghill.

Seniors Ben Nichols and Rawad Alawar stepped onto the court first and each triumphed in their final regular-season, dual match. Nichols fell behind 0-2 in the opening set, but rallied past Saints senior Hugo Ayala 6-2, 6-0 for his 11th singles victory this spring.

Alawar stopped Brandon Outlaw 6-1, 6-2.

"You could tell Ben was a little nervous being on that first court where everyone could see him," said Coghill. "After his nerves went, he really played spectacular and played great in doubles today. Rawad has been getting better every match and I think he's going to be a force in the playoffs.

"He's starting to play fantastic."

Two-time defending eastern singles champion Blake Vail improved to 30-0 against ECC regular-season opposition with a 6-0, 6-0 decision over the Saints' Benny Segura. Fellow Golden Falcon Dylan Quinn rose to 13-0 this season with 6-1, 6-2 conquest of Cameron Thames, and sixth-seeded Kareem Alawar upended Alan Nunez 6-3, 6-0.

Second-seeded Addison Westbrook slipped past Saints junior Kobi Hood 6-2, 2-6, 10-6. Hood pounded out winner after winner against Westbrook in the second set, but the Aycock junior controlled the decisive super tiebreaker.

Westbrook (12-1) grabbed an early three-point lead, weathered two rallies and won four of the final five points of the match.

"Our guys played some great tennis, especially Kobi," said Saints head coach John Fonvielle. "Westbrook is a really good player and they played some good tennis today. We could have used a better score and kept the ball going longer, but our guys did make some great shots.

"We played some smart and made good decisions on shots."

The Golden Falcons swept the doubles.

Vail-Quinn remained unbeaten in 13 outings with an 8-5 win over Segura-Thames. Westbrook-Nichols (11-1) rolled past Hood-Outlaw 8-1 and the Alawars posted the same score against Ayala-Nunez.

Aycock extended its ECC regular-season win streak to 20 matches and is now 8-0 against county opposition since 2008.

"What can I say?," said Coghill. "I think my guys have gotten better every year and (it's) sad to lose both of the seniors we have in the lineup, but I'm looking forward to the second part of the year.

"There's the regular season and playoffs that are to come. We've really been working this week to get in better shape than we were at the beginning of the year, and hopefully we can make a run at it."