Becker wins regional tennis title

Published 10:44 am Thursday, October 29, 2015

Laura Becker’s numbers in the 4-A Midwest Regional tennis tournament were so astounding – all eight sets were wins of 6-1 or 6-0 and she claimed 48 of 51 games – they ought to be preserved behind glass.

The tournament was held at Grimsley High on Oct. 23-24. The singles and doubles players who reached the semifinals earned berths to the state meet.

In an unforgettable performance, Becker, a Davie freshman, went 4-0 to win the regional championship in singles.

“She was her same low-key self,” coach John Bullins said. “She graciously took care of business. To be such a talented player, she is so humble and so focussed and displays tremendous sportsmanship all the time. Like any athlete, she can vent her frustrations. But she moves on to the next point and gets focussed again.”

At 18-4, Becker has the most wins for a Davie female tennis player in eight years (Lauren Hauser went 19-8 in 2007). She is the first Davie female singles player to qualify for the state since Hauser, who finished fourth in the regional in ‘07. If that’s not eye-catching enough, Becker is Davie’s only regional tennis champ  in this century.

From the first round on, Becker was like an 18-wheeler rolling downhill. In opening round, she beat Kate Freed of Cardinal Gibbons 6-0, 6-1. In the second round, she beat Layna Perini of Grimsley 6-0, 6-0.

“You had to be there to believe it,” Bullins said. “In my 29 years of coaching, I’ve never seen an individual athlete dominate a sporting event like she did. It was amazing.”

More amazing: Becker overwhelmed her semifinal and final opponents just the same. In the semifinals against Savannah Bright of East Chapel Hill, she won 6-1, 6-1. In the championship against Ellis Brown of Page, she won 6-0, 6-0.

“Bright and Brown are both ranked in the state,” Bullins said. “In fact, Brown is ranked 113th in the country. Laura was in that Stephon Curry zone, where he never misses. She was hitting every stroke with precision – everything.”

Becker and Brown had clashed once before in a tournament outside of high school. Brown defeated Becker then. With the regional crown on the line, Becker was light years better than Brown.

“It was a work of art,” Bullins said. “It was one of those performances I will never forget in my entire lifetime.”

Becker is ranked sixth in the state in the freshman division. She said her best ranking in the country this year has been 152nd. Needless to say, Division-I recruiters will be all over her when she’s a junior.

“My goal is to play at a Division-I school,” Becker said.

Now it’s on to the state meet, which begins Friday at 9 a.m. at the Millbrook Tennis Center in Raleigh.

“Hopefully I can win some matches,” Becker said. “I’m just going to give it my all.”

The War Eagles were well represented in the regional, with freshman Sierra Foster playing singles and the Ngo sisters – junior Jennifer and freshman Amanda – playing doubles.

Foster dispatched Madison Harmon of Ragsdale in the first round, winning 6-4, 6-2. In the second round, she lost 6-0, 6-3 to Sophie Bischoff of Riverside.

The Ngo sisters also went 1-1. They defeated a pair from Page 6-2, 7-5 before losing 6-3, 6-2 to Cardinal Gibbons.

While Becker’s utter brilliance was the story of the day, the sum of the seasons from Foster and the Ngos was greater than anyone could have foreseen. Foster went 14-5, while the Ngos finished 10-2.

“Sierra should be very proud,” Bullins said. “She battled (Bischoff). Sierra is always going to do that. To have this experience as a freshman, it’s invaluable.

“The Ngos want to do this again. To make it to the regional is an accomplishment. Once you’re at regionals, boy, everybody plays some good tennis.”