03/24/10 — C.B. Aycock seizes sole possession of ECC race

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C.B. Aycock seizes sole possession of ECC race

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 24, 2010 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- County tennis archrivals Charles B. Aycock and state-ranked Eastern Wayne staged another classic duel Tuesday afternoon.

And not surprisingly, it could have gone either way.

The Golden Falcons owned a two-point advantage after singles play, won two doubles matches and turned back the previously-unbeaten Warriors 6-3 in chilly, breezy conditions.

Aycock improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 against Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference opposition this season. Eastern Wayne (2-1 ECC) endured its first setback in seven outings.

"(Aycock) played the big points tough and is an excellent team from top to bottom," said second-year Eastern Wayne coach Craig Hassell. "They are well-coached and have experience, talent and the competitive nature to gut out tough matches."

Top-seeded Blake Vail, the three-time defending ECC singles champion, staged comebacks in each set during his No. 1 singles slugfest against Warrior freshman Chaz Fitzpatrick.

The two players couldn't consistently hit clean shots due to the windy conditions, which turned their 1-hour, 50-minute contest into a defensive -- and mental -- match. Fitzpatrick whipped a few winners past the emotion-charged Vail, who turned a 4-3 opening-set deficit into a 6-4 win.

Fitzpatrick sprayed the ball around the court in the second set, which forced Vail to track down deep shots in the corners. Vail managed to hold serve and forced the tiebreaker with an off-speed low volley that Fitzpatrick couldn't return.

Vail fell behind 4-1 in the tiebreaker and abandoned his baseline game. He started charging the net, and won six of the final seven points. Vail improved to 33-0 in ECC regular-season play.

"It was a more defensive match and became mental," said Aycock coach Kevin Coghill of Vail's outcome. "I think Blake's experience helped him out and he hit some big volleys. It was brutal to watch, but it was a very exciting match."

Freshman Will Hoff, senior Dylan Quinn and junior Brad Wilson each prevailed in singles for Aycock. Quinn needed a third-set, super tiebreaker to stop the Warriors' Mike Barnette 6-4, 3-6, 10-7.

The Warriors got singles victories from sophomore Russell Turner, who returned after a five-match absence due to injury, and sixth-seeded Mike Ames. Ames claimed a three-set decision over the Golden Falcons' Kareem Alawar.

"They unveiled Russell in the lineup today and that made it super tough," said Coghill.

Turner-Aaron Dunmire rolled to an 8-2 victory at No. 2 doubles against Aycock's Addison Westbrook-Hoff. The Golden Falcons tandems of Vail-Quinn and Wilson-Alawar each squeezed out identical 9-7 wins.

"The return of Russell helped us tremendously," said Hassell. "Chaz and Russell continue to improve and will be our strength up top. I thought our doubles play was good, even though we lost 2-1. But, we could have three good doubles teams.

"Our team played well ... just lost on some key points in singles and doubles. Hopefully, we can learn from this match and continue to improve."