10/02/13 — Eastern Wayne claims ECC 3A/4A girls regular-season title

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Eastern Wayne claims ECC 3A/4A girls regular-season title

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 2, 2013 1:46 PM


The shadows grew longer and disappeared as twilight faded into darkness on the Eastern Wayne tennis courts Tuesday evening.

The Warriors didn't seem to notice.

They were too busy focused on securing the inaugural Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference regular-season title and automatic qualifying bid to the postseason. McKenna Dove needed three-plus hours to clinch the decisive singles point in a 6-1 triumph over archrival Charles B. Aycock.

"McKenna somehow eeked it out," EW head coach Craig Hassell said.

Dove's triumph helped seal Eastern Wayne's 12th trip to the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team playoffs and second straight as the ECC champion. Aycock saw its string of 22 consecutive postseason appearances come to an end.

"There was a lot of pressure knowing we had to win this match to even have a chance of going to the playoffs," CBA head coach Summer Pennington said. "(The one bid) is a hard thing to swallow especially knowing we're going to finish second without the chance to go to the postseason and be successful.

"With a young team it would be valuable experience and who knows, we could have ended up doing well."

Hassell described the rematch as a "carbon copy" of the first meeting nearly one month ago. The No. 3-ranked Warriors (14-0 overall, 11-0 ECC) stuck to the basics and employed the "one more ball" mentality that once again frustrated the Golden Falcons.

Eastern Wayne earned straight-set victories on five singles courts.

Savannah Sutton triumphed 6-1, 6-0 over Aycock's Rachel Jackson at the No. 2 slot. Teammates Cameron Dove (No. 4 seed), Debbie Mitchell (No. 5 seed) and Brennan Dove (No. 6 seed) each collected a singles point.

The Golden Falcons avoided the shutout when top-seeded Ashton Walker turned back Faith Sutton 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (18-16). Long points were punctuated with consistent groundstrokes to the corners and defensive lobs to slow the tempo.

Sutton prevailed in their previous meeting, but misfired on numerous match-point opportunities in the tiebreaker.

"Ashton and Faith had some great points," Hassell said. "It was a match that could have gone either way. Both of them deserved a lot of recognition. It was good to see quality tennis like that."

McKenna Dove completed her 3-hour, 11-minute marathon with a 6-3, 7-6 (8) conquest of Casie Belom. Moments later, the top-seeded tandem of Faith and Savannah Sutton turned back Walker-Cassidy Coerver 8-4.

The remaining two doubles matches were canceled due to darkness.

"I think we played well," Pennington said. "We knew that Eastern Wayne was going to be very consistent like they were the last time, that's something that we struggle with. I thought we tried to play a consistent game. (We) had a decent showing."

Eastern Wayne (14-0, 11-0) has won six of the last seven ECC crowns since 2007. CBA has six ECC championships to its credit, the last coming in 2011.

"It was another hardfought match," Hassell said. "I give credit to Summer and her whole squad. I think we played a little bit better overall in some matches today, especially at five and six (singles). I think we stepped it up a little bit today."