09/16/09 — Reigning ECC champions clip Falcons

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Reigning ECC champions clip Falcons

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 16, 2009 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- This was a classic.

Danielle Daniel's short chip volley ended a three-hour marathon as two-time defending Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference girls' tennis champion Eastern Wayne stopped Charles B. Aycock 5-4 on Tuesday afternoon.

The Warriors (6-3 overall, 2-0 ECC) claimed their seventh consecutive victory over the Golden Falcons, who suffered just their fifth league defeat in 321 outings since 1979.

The contest marked the homecoming for first-year Eastern Wayne head coach Kelly Matthews, who played on Aycock's state 2-A championship team in 1997.

"I hate to say it, but I wanted the win," grinned Matthews. "I think we played well and the girls knew coming in it was going to be a close match. They were pumped, but knew Aycock would be pumped, too."

And it wasn't easy.

The teams battled to a 3-3 tie on the singles scene.

Top-seeded Danielle Daniel, third-seeded Janielle Daniel and fourth-seeded Warner Underwood each collected a singles point for the Warriors. Underwood overcame a three-game, first-set deficit to defeat Harlie Howard 7-5, 6-2.

Aycock's Hollie Baker rolled past Miller Delbridge, a returning state qualifier, at No. 2 singles. Teammates Nicole Kessler and Katie Gurley each pulled out a third-set tiebreaker at Nos. 5 and 6 singles, respectively, to force the deadlock.

"We had two good matches at five and six ... came out on top of those," said Aycock head coach Brad Matthews. "We had two girls who didn't play to their potential today. We have to play almost perfect to beat them."

The Warriors' Matthews pulled out the "do-or-die" speech before doubles play began. The Warriors, who extended their ECC regular-season win streak to 24, seized control in two matches.

Daniel-Underwood pulled away for an 8-3 decision over Ashley Howell-Abbey Strickland. The first-year tandem of Amber Miller-Grace Delbridge upended Kessler-Howard 8-4.

"We have strong doubles ... work together well," said Matthews. "(Miller-Delbridge) played smart, didn't try to overpower and tried to put the ball away. The seniors (Daniel-Underwood) came out and showed their maturity. They wanted it."

Aycock's No. 2 tandem of Baker-Gurley doubled up the Warriors' Janielle Daniel-Miller Delbridge 8-4. The duo trailed 4-3 and won the final five games of the match.

"I'm still not satisfied with the way we're playing (in doubles)," said Aycock's Matthews, whose team slipped to 6-6 overall. "We've got to be more aggressive and put points away early instead of sitting back and letting them (dictate play). They were putting pressure on us ... attacking.

"We played defense instead of going on the attack."