Sutton wins ECC tennis singles title
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 15, 2011 11:25 PM
Treat it like practice.
Eastern Wayne's Savannah Sutton and Charles B. Aycock's tandem of Brooke Barfield-Ashton Walker each took that mentality into their respective championship matches as the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference girls' tennis tournament concluded Friday afternoon.
None walked away disappointed with their effort.
The second-seeded Sutton claimed the singles crown with a 7-6 (4), 6-3 triumph over teammate and top-seeded Grace Delbridge. Barfield-Walker, the top seed in doubles, turned back teammates Katie Gurley-Misty Edwards 6-2, 6-3.
All six players qualified for the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A eastern regional, which begins Oct. 21 at Barton College in Wilson. They'll be joined by Eastern Wayne's Jackie Johnson and Blake Govan and Southern Wayne senior Michala Best in singles; and Aycock's duo of Brittany Parrish-Caroline Bone in doubles.
Minutes after shaking hands with Delbridge, a soft-spoken Sutton still seemed surprised over the outcome. She survived a tight opening set and matched Delbridge groundstroke for groundstroke in the second set.
"It was kind of awkward and I was a little bit nervous," said Sutton. "I knew I had to hit good shots because she's really consistent. I tried to step up my game and winning the first set made me more confident in the second set.
"I think I played good."
Barfield-Walker (23-2 overall) kept Edwards from dominating the net by hitting low shots. The duo also worked well from the baseline, hit good shots and stayed focused on the task at hand.
"We just took it like practice, wanted to play our best and show no mercy," grinned Walker, a freshman. "We tried to make as few errors as possible."
Best tumbled into the consolation bracket after a quarterfinal-round loss to Johnson. A three-year starter for the Saints, she worked her way up the ladder and clinched the league's fifth -- and final berth -- for the regional with an 8-1 rout of Cleveland sophomore Casey Quiel.
Best broke Quiel's serve in the opening game and raced to a 5-0 lead in the pro-set affair. Quiel pulled within 5-1, but couldn't overcome first-service troubles and numerous unforced errors.
"It's a big shocker to me. I didn't think I'd see this day," said Best. "Everything worked out to where I could pull it together."