05/02/12 — Fighting Knights knock out EW

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Fighting Knights knock out EW

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 2, 2012 1:49 PM

An early exit.

The Eastern Carolina 3-A champion, for the second time in the last three years, tumbled in opening-round action of the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team tennis playoffs Tuesday afternoon.

And Northern Nash exacted revenge.

The Fighting Knights' second-seeded doubles of Julian Marrero-Eric Joyner claimed the match-clinching point in a 5-3 triumph over the Warriors, who swept the regular-season series.

"The third time was the charm," Northern head coach Zachary Marks said. "We knew coming into this we had to win four singles matches."

Northern Nash, the Big East champion, controlled the tempo on the lower-seeded courts. Third-seeded Tremel Davis kept a one-game advantage over Eastern Wayne senior Steven Taylor throughout the opening set, and eventually triumphed 7-5, 6-0.

Fourth-seeded Josiah Marshall rallied from a 3-2 second-set deficit and turned back regional singles qualifier Mitchell Kaspar 6-3, 6-3. Matthew Outlaw patiently capitalized on unforced errors in a 6-3, 7-5 conquest of Sawyer Thompson.

Sixth-seeded Eric Joyner repaid Cole Newsome for two regular-season losses with a 6-3, 6-2 victory. Newsome suffered his first defeat in 17 outings.

"(Joyner) is a senior and he didn't want to go out like that," Marks said. "Cole is an awesome player. Eric rose up to the occasion today, played awesome ... the best I've seen him play and he's been doing that the last week or so. It's a heckuva time for him to step up."

Marrero-Joyner rolled past Kaspar-Thompson, 10-2, which sealed the overall outcome. The number three doubles match was not completed.

Junior Chaz Fitzpatrick and senior Russell Turner collected the Warriors' singles points. Fitzpatrick rebounded from a second-set loss to defeat Michael Brackett 6-4, 4-6, 10-2. Turner dispatched Marrero 6-0, 6-0 in the quickest match of the day.

Fitzpatrick-Russell also emerged victorious in doubles.

"The singles could have gone either way," Eastern Wayne head coach Craig Hassell said. "To their credit they played really well today. They're a talented team, young and deep down low. I thought our guys played hard today ... might have been a little off from how we normally are.

"Northern Nash played tough."

The ECC's regular-season champion is now 0-3 in first-round dual-team matches since 2010.