08/28/09 — Gryphons take battle of state-ranked teams

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Gryphons take battle of state-ranked teams

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 28, 2009 1:49 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Perennial powerhouse Rocky Mount simply overwhelmed Charles B. Aycock in a battle of state-ranked teams on a sweltering Thursday afternoon.

The Gryphons rolled to a 9-0, non-conference victory.

"They're good," said second-year Golden Falcons head coach Brad Matthews. "Everybody talks about (Wilson) Fike, but some think that Rocky Mount is just as good as Fike. They're definitely a notch above us."

Lindsay Thomas, Kate Gray, Addie Keeter, Caroline Nelson and Margaret Arroyo each prevailed in straight sets. Sixth-seeded Elizabeth Thompson squeezed out a 6-3, 5-7, 10-8 victory over Aycock senior Nicole Kessler.

"The last couple of matches, I've felt like Nicole hasn't played very well," said Matthews. "Today, she made up for it with her hustle. I'm very proud of her and she acted like she wanted it today."

Rocky Mount, ranked No. 5 in the N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association 3-A poll, cruised on the doubles courts. The combos of Gray-Keeter, Thomas-Nelson and Arroyo-Thompson combined to lose just eight games.

Kessler and fellow senior Amanda Farmer gave the Gryphons the toughest outing at No. 3 doubles -- an 8-4 loss to Arroyo-Thompson.

"We have really struggled in doubles and it was a surprise the way we played," said Matthews. "Today we moved better, were more aggressive and attacked the ball. On the other hand, our singles didn't look as good as the previous five matches.

"But we're going to be fine."

No. 7-ranked Aycock, which returns five starters, endured its third defeat against a state-ranked opponent this season. The Golden Falcons (3-3 overall) lost to defending eastern dual-team 3-A champion Fike (No. 2) and long-time rival Greene Central (No. 2 in 2-A).

"We scheduled some really tough non-conference teams and that only makes you better for conference," said Matthews. "Hopefully, my girls won't get frustrated."

Aycock travels to No. 8-ranked East Duplin (2-A) on Monday.