10/12/12 — Aycock's Walker defeats teammate for ECC singles crown

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Aycock's Walker defeats teammate for ECC singles crown

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 12, 2012 1:48 PM

Charles B. Aycock teammates Ashton Walker and Katie Gurley walked to the net, and flipped over just one scorecard after an early-match court change.

Home 3, Guest 2.

Time to panic?

Not for Walker.

The sophomore, who hadn't dropped a game during her first two matches, regained her composure and handed Gurley a 6-3, 6-0 loss in the championship match of the 2012 Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference women's singles tournament Thursday afternoon at Herman Park. Walker remained perfect in 23 outings this season, including an eye-popping 46-0 mark in set play.

The duo is part of a Wayne County contingent that punched its ticket for the N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern regional, which begins Oct. 19 at Barton College in Wilson. Joining Walker and Gurley are Aycock teammate Rachel Jackson; Southern Wayne's tandem of Hope Jones-Taylor Davis; and all three Eastern Wayne doubles teams -- ECC runners-up Savannah Sutton-Faith Sutton, Grace Delbridge-Brittney Brinson and McKenna Dove-Cameron Dove.

"I am extremely proud of how our team performed this year in winning the conference regular-season title and this tournament further proved the depth, talent and willingness of our individual players to work as a team in doubles and achieve success in postseason play," EW head coach Craig Hassell said.

Gurley stayed within striking distance of Walker in the opening set, but wouldn't take another the remainder of the match. Walker worked the ball around the court and stayed consistent in her transition game en route to her second ECC title. She won the doubles crown a year ago with Brooke Barfield, who is finishing out her prep career at Wayne Christian this season.

"I kind of went into panic mode but said I just had to stay calm, take a deep breath and regroup," Walker said. "I call her the 'comeback queen' because she doesn't care how far she is down, she is going to fight to win. With Katie, you have to be consistent because she's fast, has a good serve when it's in and you have to make her move around (the court)."

Gurley was pleased with her first-set effort, but admitted the second set was a little shaky. She struggled on her serve and had a hard time getting her racquet on sharply-hit balls in the deep corners of the court.

"She does that really well," Gurley said.

Jackson finished fourth in singles play. Teammate Kimber Pender battled for fifth, but had to retire when she injured her right shoulder on a forehand return during second-set action against Cleveland's Casey Quiel. Aycock head coach Luke Vail said this morning that Pender had sustained a strained rotator cuff.

The Warriors' Sutton-Sutton posted consecutive shutouts before meeting Triton's Jennifer Byrd-Cailin Goff in their title tilt. Byrd-Goff claimed a hard-fought 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory in a match that featured stellar baseline and net play by both teams.

"I was extremely proud of the tenacity of Savannah and Faith," Hassell said. "They lost to a very aggressive team that had beaten Aycock's number one doubles and Savannah-Faith twice this year. They could face Byrd-Goff in next week's regionals and will be hungry to avenge this loss."

Delbridge-Brinson seized third place with a 6-0, 6-4 triumph over the Dove siblings.

The Saints' Jones-Davis, seeded third overall, reeled off two consecutive victories after a quarterfinal-round loss. They defeated Triton's Caroline Dunham-Madison Newton 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in the fifth-place match.