E. Wayne nets share of first ECC girls' tennis crown since 2010
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 28, 2012 1:48 PM
PIKEVILLE -- Eastern Wayne's convincing victory over archrival Charles B. Aycock led to a reward Thursday afternoon.
The Warriors clinched at least a share of the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference regular-season dual-team women's championship with an 8-1 conquest of the Golden Falcons. Eastern Wayne (12-1 overall, 10-0 ECC) also secured the league's No. 1 seed for the upcoming N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team playoffs, which begin in mid-October.
"I was so pleased with the girls today, we battled at every position," second-year EW head coach Craig Hassell said. "This is one of the best coaching wins and team performances I've had in four years of coaching boys and two years of coaching girls.
"We're peaking at the time of year that we need to be."
Aycock (12-5, 8-3) suffered three conference losses in the same season for the first time in three-plus decades. Its playoff fate most likely will determined with a "play-in" match against Triton for the league's No. 2 berth.
The Golden Falcons have never failed to qualify for the dual-team playoffs since the NCHSAA adopted the format in 1990.
"We're in a rebuilding phase and to get the playoff berth would be a tremendous accomplishment for this team," CBA head coach Luke Vail said. "The difference in today's match came down to consistency and experience. A lot of the singles matches were closer than the (final) score. Eastern Wayne is a good team and does a lot of things well, puts pressure on you.
"It was a great effort and a learning experience for our team. We've got so many young players with little varsity experience, it's been a baptism by fire so to speak all season. This will make us better as we move toward the last two weeks of the regular season."
Eastern Wayne sealed its first ECC crown since 2010 and fifth overall in program history during singles play.
Faith Sutton and senior Grace Delbridge finished within minutes of each other on courts No. 2 and 3, respectively. Sutton defeated Katie Gurley 6-2, 6-3 and Delbridge won the final six games in a 6-2, 6-1 triumph over Rachel Jackson. Jackson won the previous meeting in straight sets nearly three weeks ago.
Fourth-seeded Blake Govan captured a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 triumph over Kimber Pender. Fifth-seeded McKenna Dove and sixth-seeded Cameron Dove each posted a straight-set decision over their respective opponent.
"Singles was a little bit of a shock to me as well, not to take anything away from Luke's girls," Hassell said. "Blake gutted it out and I was really proud of her. We won some matches that we didn't win the last time, and I think that loosened the girls up a little bit for doubles."
Sophomore Ashton Walker seized Aycock's lone singles point with a 6-1, 6-1 triumph over Savannah Sutton at No. 1. Walker remained unbeaten in 18 outings this season.
The Warriors, who are 64-2 in ECC play since 2007, swept the doubles. The Sutton sisters stopped Walker-Gurley 8-3. The No. 2 tandem of Delbridge-Govan won 8-3 over Jackson-Pender, while the Dove siblings posted an 8-2 victory at No. 3 against Casey Belom-Cassidy Coerver.
"That surprised the heck out of me," Hassell said of his team's effort in doubles.
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