10/21/09 — Tigers eliminate Warriors

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Tigers eliminate Warriors

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 21, 2009 1:50 PM

Seize control and end the point quickly.

Chapel Hill's top three players executed that strategy to near perfection on a warm, sunny Tuesday afternoon. Their lower-seeded teammates played steady and the Tigers upended Eastern Wayne 6-0 in their opening-round, N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A dual-team tennis playoff match.

"I thought my girls played well," said Warriors head coach Kelly Matthews. "Besides Greenville Rose, I thought this is the best team we've faced (this season) and we played Rose in (late) August.

"(Chapel Hill) is a strong team and the competition they see throughout the year is probably stronger than the competition we see."

The Tigers (13-5 overall) needed less than a hour to earn three singles points. Second-seeded Hannah Kimbrough, a sophomore, stopped Miller Delbridge in straight sets. Teammates Tori Helpingstine (senior) and Danielle Cohen (freshman) each followed with a straight-set triumph.

Each player controlled the tempo, moved their respective opponent around the court and capitalized on unforced errors. Chapel Hill head coach Nick Baker said Helpingstine, Cohen and Kimbrough prefer to play a quick pace and end points quickly.

"It's an individual style (of play)," said Baker. "(Our top three) have the skills to do that. In the lower flights, we have to grind a little bit more. I encourage them to play the game they're more suited (to playing)."

Warrior senior Warner Underwood climbed within 5-4 in the opening set at No. 4 singles. The Tigers' Nathalie Suton reeled off seven straight games to wrap up the match 6-4, 6-0.

Eastern Wayne's Amber Miller battled at No. 5 before falling 6-4, 6-4. Teammate and sixth-seeded Grace Delbridge worked a solid opening set before losing 6-3, 6-1.

"The 4, 5 and 6 matches, when they've (the Tigers) had close matches at a higher level throughout the year, it's going to pay off now," said Matthews. "I thought my girls played some really good points. It's all in the luck of the draw and I have said that my whole life."

It was the final regular-season dual match for Underwood and fellow seniors Danielle Daniel, Melissa Wiggins and Brandi Walston. During their careers, the Warriors compiled a 51-11 record overall, won three consecutive Eastern Carolina Conference championships and finished state runners-up in 2007.