10/05/10 — Golden Falcons outlast Hawks

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Golden Falcons outlast Hawks

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 5, 2010 1:47 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Heading into the 2010 tennis season, Charles B. Aycock head coach Brad Matthews circled four dates on his calendar -- two with archrival Eastern Wayne and two with second-year league member Triton.

Each encounter, Matthews knew, would be crucial to the Golden Falcons' hopes of earning their 21st consecutive trip to the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team 3-A playoffs.

Aycock claimed a "must win" on a breezy, Monday afternoon.

The No. 2 doubles of Harlie Howard-Misty Edwards overcame a late-match lull and clinched the decisive point in a 6-3 victory over Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference upstart Triton. The Golden Falcons (11-7 overall, 9-1 ECC) swept the regular-season series and denied the Hawks an opportunity to throw a curveball into the standings.

The top two teams advance to the playoffs.

"At the beginning of the year, I knew these were two big matches and we came through," said Matthews. "The girls played hard and played every point hard, so I was proud of them for that. It was a good, total team effort (today)."

The Golden Falcons (9-1 ECC) collected four singles points.

Second-seeded Katie Gurley, the reigning News-Argus tennis athlete-of-the-week, stopped Georganna Gower 6-3, 6-3 at No. 2. Brittany Parrish outlasted Lauren Bass 6-3, 7-5 at the No. 4 spot, while Edwards dispatched the Hawks' Jennifer Byrd 6-4, 6-2 at No. 5.

Sixth-seeded Tiffany Godwin stopped Ansley Fennell 7-5, 6-3.

"We lost six (singles) last time and Tiffany came out for us and played number six really well today," said Matthews. "She kept the ball deep, got a lot of top spin on the ball and gave (Fennell) fits. That was a big match for us right there."

So was Howard-Edwards.

The confident duo raced to a 3-0 lead behind Howard's consistent ground strokes and Edwards' tenacity at the net. Triton's Allie Smith-Fennell climbed within 6-5, but Edwards held serve and the Hawks (8-3, 7-3 ECC) committed costly unforced errors in the deciding game.

"They dug deep when they had to, that's why they're a good doubles team," said Matthews. "Misty got some really good serves in that they were blocking back, and we were putting them away. Misty was really good at the net."

Aycock's third-seeded tandem of Gurley-Rachel Jackson triumphed, 8-5.

The Golden Falcons continue league play at home Thursday against county rival Southern Wayne, and entertain three-time defending ECC champion Eastern Wayne on Monday.