04/29/10 — Aycock senior reaches milestone victory in semis

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Aycock senior reaches milestone victory in semis

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 29, 2010 1:46 PM

SNOW HILL -- A green towel draped around his neck, Blake Vail let out a sigh of relief as he walked off the Snow Hill Tennis Complex courts Tuesday afternoon.

What happened next caught Vail by surprise.

His dad, Tom, greeted him at the gate, shook his hand and said "congratulations, that's your 100th win."

Vail looked shocked.

"I had no clue," said the Charles B. Aycock senior. "He was keeping it from me and I guess that's a good thing that I didn't know (at the time), but I'm glad I know about it now."

Vail claimed a come-from-behind 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Eastern Wayne sophomore Russell Turner, and advanced to today's Eastern Carolina 3-A singles final against Eastern Wayne freshman Chaz Fitzpatrick. Vail (100-5 career record) can become the first-ever, four-time singles champ in Golden Falcons history.

But getting to this point in his career almost didn't happen.

From the opening ball, Vail and Turner pounded out top-spin groundstrokes that resulted in long rallies. Vail took the first set and Turner controlled the second set, ripping accurate winners either down the line or deep in the corners.

"The second set he started to make some very big shots," said Vail. "I got caught up in it, lost my focus and lost my game."

Turner grabbed a 2-1 advantage in the third set, but started cramping.

Vail regrouped after the changeover, won the next two games and established the tempo in his favor. He eventually earned his fourth win over Turner in five meetings.

"That third set I was determined I wasn't going to lose that match and just let my heart take over," said Vail. "Once I got the lead again, that helped my confidence because I knew I had started battling again and was back in the match."

Vail and Turner each secured berths in next week's N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern regionals in Wilson. Joining Vail will be the Golden Falcons' tandem of Addison Westbrook-Dylan Quinn.

The top-seeded duo in the ECC tournament, Westbrook-Quinn advanced with a 6-0, 6-0 rout of South Johnston's Mike Purvis-Matt Moore. The Golden Falcons will face Southern Wayne's fourth-seeded twosome of Benny Segura-Cameron Thames in the semifinals this afternoon.

"Dylan and Addison went out there and got the job done," said Aycock head coach Kevin Coghill. "They were focused. Tomorrow, we need to come out intense and stick together in doubles, and that's something that Addison and Dylan don't have any trouble with."

The other semifinal pits Eastern Wayne's Mike Barnette-Aaron Dunmire against the Saints' Kobi Hood-Brandon Outlaw.

Aycock's Will Hoff logged a 1-1 record in singles and grabbed a regional berth. He defeated North Lenoir's Greg Goodson 6-2, 6-2 in quarterfinal-round action and lost a straight-set decision to Chaz Fitzpatrick.

The Golden Falcons' duo of Brad Wilson-Kareem Alawar had their regional hopes dashed with a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Barnette-Dunmire.

"Brad and Kareem couldn't put away key shots at the right moments that could have turned the match our way," said Coghill. "Overall, I thought everyone played hard today. I was proud of their efforts. We have four of six going to regionals and I can't help but be excited about that."