10/26/13 — Wayne Country Day ends Statesville's reign as NCISAA 1A tennis queen

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Wayne Country Day ends Statesville's reign as NCISAA 1A tennis queen

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 26, 2013 11:40 PM


WILSON -- An epic battle ended in the downfall of a women's tennis dynasty Saturday afternoon.

And a former powerhouse proudly assumed the throne.

Jennifer Potts earned the match-clinching point at No. 3 singles and Wayne Country Day upended nine-time defending state champion Statesville Christian, 5-4, in the 2013 N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A dual-team playoffs at Barton College.

"Indescribable," said WCDS head coach Joann Logan, who guided the Chargers to the program's seventh state crown and first since 1997.

It took 5 1/2 hours to decide the outcome.

And some grit, too.

Leading 4-2 in total matches won, top-seeded Statesville seemed poised to claim its 10th consecutive championship when Becky Barker grabbed a 5-2 lead in the second set against Potts. But Potts survived two championship points, claimed the second-set tiebreaker 7-6 (3) and built a commanding 4-0 lead in the third set.

"I had the whole team behind me," said Potts, who took the final set 6-1. "I did it for our two seniors (Meredith Roethling and Mollie Catherine McDonald). I had to play point by point and just bring it back up."

With Potts engaged in her comeback, Roethling staged a rally of her own at No. 6 singles. She reverted back to her normal style of play after falling 7-5 in the opening set.

Roething's backboard mentality and steady tempo created long rallies in the second and third sets against the Lions' Abby Caudle. Roethling took the second set 6-3 and fell behind 4-3 in the third.

"I was down on myself a little bit and started thinking this is not the way I want to go out, this is my senior year," said Roethling, as she clutched her gold medal. "I have to do this for my team and myself, and everybody.

"I just reminded myself to play how I've always played, just have fun with it."

Roethling won the third set and match 6-4 just moments after teammate Gianna Democko completed a three-set win over Jessica Rumple at No. 1 singles. Democko dropped the opening set 6-3, rebounded from a 5-2 deficit to win 7-5 and dusted Rumple 6-1 in the decisive set.

Democko missed the first meeting against Statesville with a broken foot. Her absence forced her teammates to bump up a position in the lineup.

"I think we felt confident and knew we had a chance," Roethling said. "Having Gianna made us have that little extra boost of confidence."

Democko-Taylor Willman and Potts-Ally Willman each prevailed to give Wayne Country Day a 2-1 lead after doubles. Statesville won the number three doubles line, and secured the first three singles points with straight-set decisions at the Nos. 2, 4 and 5 slots.

Then it all came down to Potts.

The first-year starter worked to stay consistent on each point as she battled back against Barker. Lobs, short volleys and baseline groundstrokes punctuated each rally during different stages of the match.

When Barker hit an unforced error into the net on championship point, she met Potts at the net and the two shook hands. Potts turned and she tried to avoid getting tackled when her teammates rushed the court.

The players nearly tumbled over the net during a group hug. They shouted 'we won!' and cried in each others' arms.

"I'm just kind of numb," Roethling said. "It's not real ... hasn't hit yet. It will when I get home."