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Golden Falcons clunch share of ECC 3-A title

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 16, 2010 1:46 PM

Charles B. Aycock seniors Blake Vail, Addison Westbrook and Dylan Quinn each wanted a second chance.

They undoubtedly made the most of it.

Vail served back-to-back aces in the decisive 16th game at No. 1 doubles, and the Golden Falcons escaped county archrival Eastern Wayne 5-4 on Thursday afternoon. Aycock (12-0 overall) secured a share of its third consecutive Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference dual-team tennis championship, and the No. 1 seed for the upcoming state playoffs.

"It was everything," said Vail. "I knew if I could step up in doubles and our team could get a win, that would make up for it all. I came up with a few big serves at the right time and it feels good now."

Vail's booming serve atoned for his first-ever defeat in dual-team action during his illustrious career at Aycock. Warrior freshman Chaz Fitzpatrick handed Vail a 6-3, 6-3 loss.

Fitzpatrick (10-2) avenged his lone defeat in ECC play this season.

Playing before teammates and friends, Fitzpatrick fed off their energy and turned an opening-set deficit into a slim 3-2 lead. He claimed the next three games and put the pressure on Vail, who couldn't find a rhythm.

Fitzpatrick dictated the tempo, pushed the ball from side to side and picked the opportune time to attack the net. Vail stayed within one game through several changeovers before Fitzpatrick closed out the set and match, 6-3.

"We both gutted it out and I happened to come out on top," said Fitzpatrick. "I feel like I played a little better. I really wasn't thinking about (Vail's win streak), I just like to win."

Vail dropped to 37-1 against ECC in dual-match play.

"Today, I just didn't have it in singles, he was better than me," said Vail. "He was moving me. I was trying to come (into the net), couldn't get in a groove, missed a few crucial shots at key times, and didn't put away some volleys I thought I should have.

"He played good and deserved to beat me today."

Westbrook struggled with his first serve and hit numerous unforced errors in a straight-set loss to Russell Turner. A sophomore, Turner improved to 3-0 this season as he continues to battle a nagging shoulder injury.

Quinn let set point slip away twice during a third-set tiebreaker against the Warriors' Mike Barnette, who earned his ninth singles win of the season. Barnette trailed 11-10, but reeled off three straight points to take the match 4-6, 6-1, 13-11.

Disappointed with the outcome, Quinn took charge in his doubles match with teammate Will Hoff. The duo hit crisp winners, served well and rolled to an 8-4 victory over Turner-Aaron Dunmire.

"I could not be more proud of my seniors today," said Aycock coach Kevin Coghill. "I'm most proud of Dylan, who has had a really rough year this year. He stepped it up in doubles after losing a big heartbreaker.

"I've never seen him take more charge of a match than that. He was the best doubles player out there on the court today. It was fantastic."

Eastern Wayne (10-2 overall, 6-2 ECC) tied the overall match at 4-4 when its No. 3 doubles of Joe DiCesare-Marvin Bowman Jr. claimed a come-from-behind, 8-6 win over Brad Wilson-Kareem Alawar.

Vail-Westbrook trailed by one game throughout their contest against Fitzpatrick-Barnette, but finally took control at 7-6. The Warriors broke Westbrook's serve to forge a 7-7 tie. The Golden Falcons regained the lead 8-7 when Fitzpatrick double-faulted on game point.

Vail served out the match and extended Aycock's streak to 30 consecutive victories against ECC opposition since 2008.

"The big points, we were a little unfortunate and you have to give them credit because they hit some good shots," said Warriors coach Craig Hassell. "I think when it comes down to those final points, experience plays a factor. There's no doubt about it."