08/27/10 — Saints' Kennedy uses old 'backboard strategy'

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Saints' Kennedy uses old 'backboard strategy'

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 27, 2010 1:46 PM

DUDLEY -- Mollianne Kennedy executed an old-fashioned tennis strategy to near perfection on Thursday afternoon.

The soft-spoken sophomore played a "backboard style" against Triton's Jennifer Byrd during their No. 5 singles match. The strategy paid dividends for Kennedy, who picked up Southern Wayne's lone point in an 8-1 loss to the Hawks.

It was the Eastern Carolina 3-A tennis opener for both teams.

Kennedy sat on the baseline and constantly returned ground strokes to Byrd, who obliged with unforced errors in the opening set. The contest tightened a little in the second set before Kennedy prevailed 6-2, 6-4.

"I definitely like the baseline better than the net," said Kennedy. "She was a good opponent and gave me a challenge. I just kept the ball in play and waited for her to make the mistake."

Kennedy improved to 2-0 in singles play this season.

"I like to have a good strategy each match," said Kennedy, one of five returning starters. "I wait to see what they're like and figure out what works best for me. I try to get the ball back to the other player with consistency and determination."

While Kennedy capitalized on key points, teammates Jessica Best, Taylor Parker and Taylor Davis couldn't benefit from any breaks. Parker endured a 6-4, 6-4 loss against Triton's Allie Smith at No. 3 singles. Davis fell 6-3, 6-3 to the Hawks' Ansley Fennell in the No. 6 spot.

Best, the No. 1 seed, dropped a heart-breaking loss to Triton's Cailin Goff, 6-3, 7-5. Best dominated the early stages of the second set, but eventually dropped three straight service games in the 2-hour, 9-minute contest.

"Jessica just couldn't break through," said Saints head coach John Fonvielle. "I was impressed that after getting off to a slow start (in the match), she held onto it and nearly pulled it off."

Triton (2-0 overall, 1-0 ECC) swept the doubles.

The Saints tumbled to 0-2 this season.

"I think they put up a good fight," said Fonvielle. "I was impressed with their effort and willpower. We've got a lot of potential for growth with our players. They need to get a better feel for getting the advantage in a competitive situation.

"We also need to get a little bit smarter with our strategy."