11/01/10 — Eagle freshman takes charge at No. 2 singles

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Eagle freshman takes charge at No. 2 singles

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

WILSON -- Faith Sutton anticipated a semifinal-round exit from the 2010 N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A girls' tennis tournament Saturday afternoon.

The Wayne Christian freshman surpassed her expectations.

And emerged a state champion.

Sutton dumped top-seeded Kayla Revelle of Statesville in straight sets and claimed the singles crown at the No. 2 flight on the Barton College Tennis Athletic Complex courts. She became the first individual state champion in Eagles' athletics history and first in Wayne County history since 2003.

"Totally unexpected," said Sutton.

Teammate Taylor Willman finished the state runner-up to Statesville's Kristen Marchese at the No. 3 singles flight. Brooke Barfield and Reagan Hinton each fell in the semifinal round in singles. Barfield-Sutton and Willman-Hinton each advanced to the semifinals on the doubles scene.

Fellow Eagles Abigail Easom and Jessica Calvert each dropped opening-round matches in singles and doubles. The duo was making their first-ever appearance in the state tournament.

Wayne Christian ended up fourth overall in the 12-team event with 15 points. Perennial powerhouse Statesville Christian seized an unprecedented seventh consecutive team championship.

"I am so proud of our whole team," said WCS head coach Dana Willman. "We lost three of our top six from last year, and I wasn't sure if we were going to even have enough girls to play this year. However, the girls came out and fought hard to win all but one (dual) match this season."

Sutton said she and coach Michael Boothman, the tennis pro at Walnut Creek Country Club, practiced together the entire week. Boothman has spent the last year working on Sutton's endurance, and it definitely paid dividends.

"It was a hard week," said Sutton.

Sutton drew an opening-round bye and easily defeated her quarterfinal-round opponent. When she started warming up for the semifinals, she thought her season might end when her opponent hit solid, crisp groundstrokes before the match began.

Once the match started, Sutton capitalized on numerous unforced errors and waltzed into the title match against Revelle. The two played on even terms throughout the first set before Sutton pulled away for a 6-4 win.

"She (Revelle) placed the ball better and hit harder than the other girls," said Sutton. "I tried to keep her at the baseline and keep hitting to her backhand. I was glad the first set was over, but I was nervous about the second set.

"I had a lot of pressure. She got a little more tired and didn't play as good."

Revelle continued to pile up unforced errors and fell behind 5-0. She served to stay in the match, but couldn't overcome two double faults and an unforced error on match point.

Tired and hungry, Sutton sighed in relief.

"I just kept praying that God would give me the endurance," said Sutton. "When I won the last point, it was a sense of relief. I felt good and I was happy."

Charlie Drew, who starred at Eastern Wayne, claimed the county's last state title in 2003 when he won the NCHSAA 3-A singles crown. The last female winners were Goldsboro High alumni Daniela Marx and Lee Worrell, who emerged the 4-A doubles champions in 1990.

"Faith is always a consistent player, but she played outstanding all weekend," said Willman. "She is mentally tough and did not let up during any of her matches. She took any advice we gave her and implemented it on the court, and was able to stay focused until the end."