05/18/11 — Duo puts Warriors in east finals

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Duo puts Warriors in east finals

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 18, 2011 1:47 PM

Craig Hassell is glad the rains stayed away.

And he's thrilled that Rafael Guerra was able to play.

Guerra and doubles mate Joseph Chaney clinched the match-deciding point, and lifted Eastern Wayne to a 5-4 triumph over Wilson Fike in quarterfinal-round play of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A dual-team boys' tennis playoffs Tuesday afternoon.

Had Mother Nature washed out the playoff affair, Guerra would have missed the match today due to a school-related trip.

"It's ironic it (the outcome) ended up coming down to his match," said Hassell.

And what a match it was.

Guerra-Chaney raced to a 3-0 advantage against the Demons' Kyle Lewis-Rob Brown. The lead swelled to 7-2 before Lewis-Brown reeled off five consecutive games to forge a 7-7 deadlock.

Tied at 8-8, Guerra-Chaney led 40-30 when Lewis-Brown hit a ball close to the line. Guerra called it out, but Chaney overruled his teammate and play continued.

Guerra-Chaney sealed the match three points later.

"I was proud of the boys because they showed some resiliency," said Hassell. "They've been struggling a little bit, but they've been big for us (in the playoffs)."

The teams battled to a 3-3 tie after singles.

Two-time eastern regional champ Chaz Fitzpatrick rallied from a 4-3 second-set deficit to defeat Nick James 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 1 slot. Teammates Mike Barnette and Steven Taylor each posted a straight-set win at Nos. 2 and 3 singles, respectively.

The Golden Demons (13-5 overall) took the bottom three singles matches and triumphed at No. 3 doubles. Fitzpatrick-Barnette rolled to a 10-4 decision at No. 1 doubles after holding a slim 3-2 lead early in the match.

Eastern Wayne (14-3) earned its first trip to the eastern finals since 2007 and just its third overall in program history. The Warriors visit perennial power Cardinal Gibbons on Thursday. First serve is 4 p.m.

"I said if you guys want to go to Raleigh, go out there and take care of business," said Hassell to his team before doubles play began. "We had been in this situation before. We knew we were capable of sweeping (doubles), but we didn't."