Warriors' experience pays off in doubles play
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 13, 2012 1:48 PM
Experience proved critical for Eastern Wayne during its most important -- and most intense -- tennis match of the young season Wednesday afternoon.
The Warriors needed every ounce of it.
The No. 2 doubles of Grace Delbridge-Blake Govan claimed the deciding match point in a gritty, 5-4 victory over county archrival Charles B. Aycock in Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference play.
Eastern Wayne (7-1 overall) remained unbeaten in five league outings this season, while Aycock (6-4) dropped its second ECC match in five tries.
"It could have gone either way," Warriors' head coach Craig Hassell said. "We played good at some positions and at other positions we didn't. They played well in some spots where I thought we might be able to pull it out and we lost."
The mid-September affair matched two teams that have combined to win every regular-season ECC championship since 2000. Eastern Wayne climbed into position to claim its first league crown since 2010 and fifth overall in program history.
Long rallies and sharply-hit angle shots punctuated points on every court as the Warriors and Golden Falcons dueled to a 3-3 draw after singles play.
Transfer Faith Sutton, who won an independent schools state singles title at Wayne Christian, pulled off a 6-4, 6-2 over Aycock's Katie Gurley at the No. 2 spot. Sutton wasted a three-game advantage in the opening set, but took nine of the final 11 games to hand Gurley her first loss in 10 outings this season.
Fellow Warriors Blake Govan and Cameron Dove prevailed at Nos. 4 and 6 singles, respectively. The duo combined to lose just five games against two first-year Aycock starters.
Aycock received individual victories from top-seeded Ashton Walker, who rose to 10-0 in singles play this season; third-seeded Rachel Jackson and fifth-seeded Casey Belom.
"We played well in singles and we had our opportunities," Golden Falcons head coach Luke Vail said. "Casey stepped up and won a big match at number five to give us a 3-3 split. I felt like coming over here that it was going to be big challenge for us to step up to play them close because they have more experience than we do, and they had picked up Faith, who is an excellent player.
"The real difference in the match came down their experience in doubles."
Eastern Wayne played aggressive on each point and dominated net play on two of three doubles courts. Sutton-Brittney Brinson gave the Warriors' their fourth point with an 8-2 conquest of Belom-Cassidy Coerver.
Delbridge's short poke on a net volley sealed an 8-0 triumph at No. 2 doubles and secured the overall outcome. The Warriors have won 11 of their last 13 meetings against the Golden Falcons.
"Faith and Brittney both picked up their up their play, played aggressive and smart, and kept the ball in play," Hassell said. "I thought Grace rebounded well after a tough loss in singles. I think the experience of her and Blake playing together for two years was big for us. They volleyed at the net and played the big points well.
Walker-Gurley grabbed Aycock's lone doubles point with an 8-3 decision over Faith Sutton-McKenna Dove at the No. 1 spot.
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