Tennis loses 5-4 in first round

Published 10:45 am Thursday, October 29, 2015

The regular season and conference tournament were a blast, and the excitement just kept building in the Davie tennis team’s match at Lake Norman in the first round of the dual team state playoffs on Oct. 20.

It was 3-3 after singles. It was 4-4 after two doubles matches were completed. It was a captivating and downright exhausting match. The Wildcats emerged with a 5-4 decision virtue of a 10-8 win in the final doubles match. It was one of those unbelievable battles where one team won but no one lost.

“What a night,” coach John Bullins said. “It was a great night of girls tennis. Lake Norman has an extremely good team. I wish them lots of luck in the rest of the playoffs. We showed that Davie County girls tennis can be a force as well.”

The Wildcats bumped their record to 16-1 and their win streak to 14. Their only loss was 7-2 to Marvin Ridge on Aug. 26. This was their closest test during the win streak. Davie, the Central Piedmont Conference Tournament champion, watched its six-match win streak end as it was stopped for the first time since Sept. 16 at Reynolds. It finished 13-3.

“We want to make this type of postseason experience a regular event,” Bullins said. “We don’t want this to be one playoff appearance and not have it again for eight years. We want to make it every single year. We want to put Davie girls tennis back on the map – not only in this area but across the state. That’s what we have to remember as we work to improve in the offseason.”

At No. 1 singles, Lake Norman’s Lauren Gish defeated freshman Laura Becker 6-4, 6-0. The first set was tied 4-4. That was the pivotal moment. Gish took over from there and Becker could not recover.

“If it had turned around right there, the outcome could have been different,” Bullins said. “Like so many other sports, it’s one point here, one game there and it could have been different.”

At No. 2, freshman Sierra Foster lost 6-2, 6-4.

“Sierra’s opponent was sometimes their No. 1 player and sometimes their No. 2 player,” Bullins said. “Gish is a tournament player, so she doesn’t play in all of Lake Norman’s matches. Sierra was playing a No. 1 at times.”

At No. 3, junior Jennifer Ngo survived in a tiebreaker by a score of 4-6, 6-2 (10-5), earning her 12th win in 15 tries.

“She’s just a battler. It’s as simple as that,” Bullins said. “When she steps on the court, she is going to fight and scrap and claw her way to a victory. And that’s what she did.”

At No. 4, freshman Amanda Ngo saw her perfect record come to an end. She lost 6-2, 6-2 for a season mark of 15-1.

“This was heartbreaking,” Bullins said. “Her opponent was very consistent and had very good net play. Amanda was battling, really fighting and making her shots. She attempted some shots that are not usually in her repertoire, but she was trying everything she could to get an advantage.”

At No. 5, the only senior in Davie’s starting lineup, Emma Etter, delivered a 7-5, 6-1 victory to close her record at 8-6.

“In all honesty, Emma dominated the entire match,” he said. “Emma’s strokes were smooth, her placement was there and she was hustling. She just dominated. It was the best I’ve seen her play all year.”

At No. 6, junior Claire Myers dug deep and came up with a tiebreaker win of 3-6, 7-5 (10-5). That made her 13-1 for the season. After two hours of action, the team score was Davie 3, Lake Norman 3.

“Claire is going to fight you tooth and nail,” he said. “It doesn’t make any difference if she can beat you in 30 minutes, one hour or 10 hours – she’s going to find a way to get a victory. She’s just a warrior all the way.”

No. 1 doubles had Davie’s 1-2 players against Lake Norman’s top two. Becker/Foster stood toe to toe for a long time before losing 10-7.

“It was a good battle,” he said. “They played hard. In fact, it was even – 6-6 – until Lake Norman pulled away near the end.”

At No. 2 doubles, the Ngo sisters won for the ninth time in 10 tries. The score was 10-6. Now the match was tied 4-4 with one match to go.

“The Ngo sisters had a close match, but they started forcing their opponents into making errors with some well-placed shots, and they eventually Ngo-ed them,” Bullins said enthusiastically.

At No. 3 doubles, Etter and Myers were involved in a stirring match that would draw the curtain on a stirring overall matchup. They were narrow losers, 10-8.

“The whole crowd was right there on the edge of their seats, cheering every shot and every winner,” Bullins said. “It was great high-school tennis for both teams.”

The War Eagles reached the dual team playoffs for the first time in four years. They were seeking their second-ever playoff win. The first came in 2001 over Vance.