Becker continues glorius tennis season

Published 9:52 am Thursday, October 27, 2016

What a coach’s dream. Laura Becker is the Central Piedmont Conference singles champion for 2016. Now she is the back-to-back Midwest 4-A Regional champion. She’s 20-0 heading to the state tournament, and she’s only a sophomore.

“She is such a humble young lady,” Davie tennis coach John Bullins said. “She’s talented and humble. Boy, what a combination.”

The regional was held at Grimsley High on Oct. 21-22.

Becker received a first-round bye because a player from Page dropped out of the tournament. She completely dismantled her quarterfinal and semifinal opponents, winning 6-0, retired over Cardinal Gibbons’ Katie Freed in the quarters.

“(Freed) wasn’t feeling well,” Bullins said. “Before beginning the second set, she talked to her coach and decided to drop out.”

In the semifinals, Becker dispatched East Chapel Hill’s Victoria Jones 6-1, 6-2. But Becker faced her toughest challenge of the year in the championship match. She wound up winning 7-5, 6-1 over East Chapel Hill’s Savannah Bright, but the first set wasn’t easy.

Becker was behind 4-3 when she and Bullins talked during the 90-second break at changeover.

“I said: ‘Just keep the ball in play. Let’s win this next game, tie it up and then catapult that to the next one. And you’ll be up 5-4 on the changeover and in a good position,’” Bullins said.

With strong winds swirling, the girls were playing in tough conditions. After Bullins’ pep talk, Becker took the next two games for a 5-4 lead. Bright came back to tie it at 5, but whatever hope Bright had was quashed by Becker’s strong finish in the first set. With the momentum at her back, Becker breezed in the second set.

“The main focus was for her to keep the ball in play,” Bullins said. “I wanted to give her some motivation as much as I could. Laura is self-motivated, but I just wanted to put a positive spin on the situation. You could tell she was determined to close out that (first) set. (Bright) played tough in the first set. When she lost the first set, it took the wind out of her. You could tell she was a different player in the second set.”

Becker surpassed the win total (19-5) from her freshman season. Repeating as regional champ and sporting a 20-0 mark is quite a feat for a sophomore.

“The wind wasn’t ideal,” Becker told the Winston-Salem Journal. “So I wanted to stay focussed and play one point at a time. I tried not to worry about the score of the match and treat each point individually.”

Becker will compete in the state tournament Oct. 28-29 at the Millbrook Exchange Center in Raleigh. The field will include 16 singles players.

“This gives me the confidence to continue to prepare and get mentally ready for the state tournament,” she told the Journal.

Davie sophomore Sierra Foster lost in the first round (6-0, 6-0) to Elizabeth Weidl of Northwest Guilford. Senior Jennifer Ngo and sophomore Amanda Ngo lost in the first round of doubles to Cardinal Gibbons. The sisters drew the top seed and the eventual regional champions.

“They played hard like always and took two games from them,” Bullins said.