03/08/12 — Warrior netters roll

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Warrior netters roll

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 8, 2012 1:48 PM

"Keep your focus."

That seemed to be head coach Craig Hassell's main message during the changeovers as Eastern Wayne's lower-seeded players struggled to take control during opening-set play against Southern Wayne on a cloudy, brisk Wednesday afternoon.

The Warriors sprayed unforced errors all over the courts, which frustrated Hassell, whose team just two days ago knocked off No. 9-ranked Northern Nash on the road.

Despite the inconsistent start, Eastern Wayne managed to keep its perfect record intact. The No. 6-ranked Warriors (5-0 overall) claimed a 9-0 victory and remained tied with county archrival Charles B. Aycock for the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference lead at 3-0.

"I thought we needed to focus down low on closing out matches," said Hassell. "They had a tough time in the first set, but were a lot better in the second set. It's just the mental side that concerns me. They'll play good on some points and then just self destruct.

"It's kind of how we have been all season."

Eastern Wayne's top three seeds -- defending ECC singles champ Chaz Fitzpatrick, Russell Turner and Steven Taylor -- rolled to a straight-set shutout. Each returning starter hit an uncharacteristic amount of unforced errors, but they each smartly capitalized on their opponents' mistakes as well.

Fifth-seeded Sawyer Thompson prevailed 6-2, 6-0. Teammates Mitchell Kaspar and Cole Newsome, the Nos. 4 and 6 seeds, respectively, each logged a 6-2, 6-0 win.

Fitzpatrick-Kaspar, Turner-Thompson and Taylor-Newsome combined to lose just three of 27 games in doubles action.

"Our doubles keep improving," said Hassell.

Southern Wayne, which returns three starters, exited 2-3 overall and 1-2 against league opposition.