Sierra Foster earns unbelievable tennis win

Published 9:43 am Thursday, September 28, 2017

In sports, nothing is unbelievable – but this is. Sierra Foster, the No. 2 singles player for Davie’s tennis team, lost the first set and trailed 5-1, 30-love in the second set.

Reynolds’ Elizabeth Youseff was two points from finishing off Foster, but the stubborn War Eagle refused to go away. She pulled off a miracle, rallying to win the second set and then winning the third-set tiebreaker.

Foster’s epic rally was the difference in Davie’s 5-4 win at Reynolds on Sept. 20. Nothing like a mind-boggling comeback and a win in a first-place showdown to keep your record spotless.

If the War Eagles (5-0 Central Piedmont Conference) want another coronation after capturing the CPC in 2016, they needed to beat Reynolds. They had feasted on a series of cupcake matches. But last week their competitive temperature went from hot to scorching as they edged Reynolds (7-4 overall, 3-1 CPC) and belted Page in nonconference play to extend their regular-season winning streak to 29.

“It was pretty stressful there for a while,” coach Collin Ferebee said after Davie’s third straight win over Reynolds, which won the CPC in 2014-15 and took 14 of 16 from Davie before the War Eagles turned the tables in 2016. Reynolds’ only losses coming in were against Northern Durham (11-0) and Page.

The Demons offered little resistance against No. 1 Laura Becker (6-2, 6-2), No. 3 Amanda Ngo (6-2, 6-0) and No. 4 Aubree Privat (6-3, 6-1).

“Laura didn’t play her best, but she found a way to win,” Ferebee said. “(Reynolds sophomore Jamie Christie) was throwing a lot of stuff at her – the proverbial throw it and see what sticks – but Laura made it work. I know I can count on a win from her.

“Once Amanda found her groove, she just ran away with it. Every time I went by, Aubree was winning and taking care of business. I knew that once she got the first set, she’d take the second for the win. We’ve been working on some things in practice, so it was nice seeing her try to incorporate those into the match.”

Reynolds won matches at Nos. 5-6, so it was 3-2 in Davie’s favor when Foster was digging a hole.

In the first set, Youseff built leads of 4-1 and 5-2. Foster reeled off three of four games to close within 5-4. The 10th game went to multiple deuces, but Foster fell short, losing 6-4.

Youseff seemed destined to win the second set, too. When it was 5-1, 30-love, Foster was on life support. “She was two points away from losing the whole shebang,” Ferebee said.

But Foster exploded for one of the greatest comebacks in county history. Here’s some of the greatest ever:

• In July 1987 at Rich Park, the Mocksville American Legion baseball team faced a 13-0 deficit with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning against Lexington. Mocksville rallied for a 14-13 win to capture its first ever Southern Division title.

• In December 2003, the Davie boys basketball team faced a 50-32 deficit with 7:10 remaining against Salisbury in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic at Catawba College. Davie ripped off a 35-8 run to win the title, 67-58.

• In the fall of 2008, Davie’s football team faced a 34-8 halftime deficit at Page. Davie scored 42 of the next 57 points to win 50-49 in overtime.

Foster joined the list by pulling a rabbit out of her hat.

“It was big time,” Ferebee said. “Going into doubles at 4-2 as opposed to 3-3 was huge. She turned it around, kicked into gear and did what she had to do. So I was really, really, really proud of her.”

At 1-5, love-30, Foster said: “I kept playing. I was like, I want to win more than one game. So I kept playing and trying. I changed my game at 5-1. It was almost too late. I was using the wrong strategy all the way up to there. Then I changed it at the last minute. I went to more defense. I was chasing down ridiculous balls, laying out for them, and trying to put everything back in the court.”

Breaking Youseff’s serve, Foster cut the deficit to 5-2. Then she served four straight aces to make it 5-3. And then, ladies and gentlemen, it was on.

“That made it 5-3,” Foster said. “My ball toss is what determines my serve. I guess my ball tosses were perfect all four of those times. When I get my ball toss right, my serve is pretty good. I was like: Well, OK, if I keep doing this, I can keep winning.”

Foster grabbed five straight games to take a 6-5 lead. Whoa Nellie. But Youseff countered to make it 6-6. Foster took the second-set tiebreaker 7-5. Youseff was wilting. Then came the match tiebreaker. Foster dominated it 10-4.

“Going into the (third-set) tiebreaker, (Youseff) was kind of mad because I had come back all the way from 5-1 and two points from the match,” Foster said. “So I definitely felt I was in a more positive mood and I could win.”

“When Sierra was playing those tiebreakers, I don’t know if I breathed the entire time,” Ferebee said.

“Sierra leaves everything she has on the court,” assistant coach MaryAnne Byerly said. “She’s a great competitor.”

Perhaps Youseff didn’t realize she was messing with a warrior who has the guts to laugh a massive deficit in the face. Then again, maybe she did. Last year Foster dropped the first set before rallying to stun the same Demon.

“Last year the exact same thing happened,” Foster said. “There were some thoughts that yes, I can do this. I can do the same thing.”

With the 4-2 lead, Davie only needed one win in doubles. At No. 1 doubles, Becker/Ngo continued their perfect season (4-0) with an 8-3 win that provided an insurmountable 5-2 lead for Davie.

“I was never really worried about them,” Ferebee said.

In the first close match of the season, the War Eagles took a huge step toward repeating as CPC champs. Last year they went 10-0 to win the regular season for the first time since 2007.

At No. 2 doubles, Foster/Privat lost for the first time in four matches, 8-5. Reynolds also won at No. 3 doubles, although both of those were meaningless thanks to the unbelievable ending at No. 2 singles.

“I think part of why Sierra and Aubree lost in doubles is because Sierra was dog tired from coming back (in singles),” Ferebee said. “Her singles match lasted two hours, 35 minutes. If she doesn’t orchestrate that kind of comeback, I think she would have had more in the tank for doubles.”

“I was totally tired,” Foster said. “I had a headache. After playing two hours, 35 minutes, I had just about had it by then.”


Davie added another notch to its belt by defeating Page in Greensboro on Sept. 21. The fascinating part wasn’t that the War Eagles won the nonconference match. They have four unbeaten players in singles. You need five wins to clinch, and Becker is an automatic two. The fascinating part: The War Eagles schooled Page 8-1 and they made it look easy. There’s also this: They did it with no rest (one day after the Reynolds match).

The 4-A Pirates had won seven straight before stumbling to 8-3.

“I’m definitely happy with how today went,” Ferebee said. “Being as dog tired as they were from last night, I wasn’t exactly sure how it was going to go. Sometimes people have off days, but we were on it today.”

Becker (6-0, 6-0), Foster (6-1, 6-0), Ngo (6-1, 6-0), Privat (6-1, 6-1), Moriah Lane (6-0, 6-2) and Grace Nixon (6-4, 6-3) swept singles. Nixon’s match was the only one that was reasonably close, “but she was pretty much in control the whole way,” Ferebee said.

In doubles, Becker/Ngo (8-1) and Privat/Emery Rosenbaum (8-3) polished off the fifth win by 8-1 or 9-0 for Davie, which improved to 9-0 overall.

“I don’t know what was going on with (Page),” Ferebee said. “We just went out there locked and loaded and brought it home.”

Notes: Becker, Foster, Ngo and Privat are all 9-0 in singles. Nixon is 7-2. … In singles and doubles, Becker is 14-0, including a 5-0 doubles mark with Ngo. Becker is 43-2 in singles/doubles in the 2016-17 seasons. “She sets goals for herself, what she wants to accomplish,” Ferebee said. “That’s what drives her. I want to win this set 6-0. I want to drop no more than two points.”