03/16/11 — Wilson, Kearney spearhead Aycock's road victory

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Wilson, Kearney spearhead Aycock's road victory

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 16, 2011 1:47 PM

One point at a time.

One match at a time.

Show improvement daily.

That's the season-long game plan Luke Vail has instilled in the Charles B. Aycock boys' tennis team this season. The young, athletic Golden Falcons showed more promise Tuesday afternoon.

Bradley Wilson and Mike Kearney each rallied from second-set deficits, and helped Aycock turn back county rival Eastern Wayne, 7-2, in Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference play. The Golden Falcons (7-0 overall) seized sole possession of the league lead at 4-0.

"I'm very proud of our team," said Vail. "We only have two guys back from last year. (We're) in the rebuilding phase, so we're young and inexperienced in the lineup. To come out with a win against a team like Eastern Wayne is a big win for us early in the season.

"We've improved greatly since the beginning of the season, and I think those close non-conference matches we've played against Rocky Mount and Greene Central have really helped us."

Eastern Wayne (4-1 overall, 3-1 ECC) lost top-seeded Chaz Fitzpatrick, the reigning eastern 3-A singles champion, in the opening set during singles play. The sophomore aggravated an elbow injury and had to retire against Golden Falcon sophomore Will Hoff.

Despite the absence of their top player, the Warriors matched the Golden Falcons ground stroke for ground stroke on each point. Second-seeded Mike Barnette claimed Eastern Wayne's lone singles point with a 6-2, 6-0 decision over Aycock freshman Addison Vail at No. 2 singles.

Wilson fell behind 3-0 against Steven Taylor at No. 3 singles, and tied the set at 5-5. They split their next two games before Wilson took the tiebreaker 7-0 and the match -- 6-3, 7-6 (0).

Kearney played a steady baseline game against Rafael Guerra at No. 4 singles. One of four first-year starters in the Aycock lineup, Kearney pulled off a come-from-behind 6-4, 6-3 win.

"I thought we were fortunate in singles that we played well on the big points," said coach Vail. "We won some matches that were tightly contested, especially at number three and number four. Bradley, that was a big turnaround for him and I think he played his best singles match of the year.

"Mike always stays focused, plays one point at a time and has athleticism to go with his skills. He had to stay on top of his game to get it, but he played well."

Fifth-seeded Austin Walker and sixth-seeded Rex Rose each captured a straight-set win to seal the outcome in singles.

Hoff-Addison Vail and Wilson-Walker prevailed at Nos. 1 and 2 doubles, respectively. The Warriors' third-seeded tandem of Taylor-Cole Newsome controlled the net and converted some big shots in an 8-3 victory over the Golden Falcons' Kearney-Rose.

"Cole and Steven have proven a very strong team (in doubles)," said Eastern Wayne head coach Craig Hassell. "Aycock is very solid from top to bottom, and that's what makes them a strong team every year. Our guys just have to be more consistent and finish off matches.

"We hope to improve as the season progresses come playoff time."