Tennis beats West for 3-peat

Published 11:45 am Thursday, October 18, 2018

When Davie’s tennis team left the West Forsyth courts on Sept. 24, it was on the ropes, trailing 4-2 after singles. Nine days later brought the first loss of the season, 6-3 to Reagan.

Meaning: The War Eagles’ outlook for extending their streak of Central Piedmont Conference championships was less than ideal.

Meanwhile, controversy engulfed the Davie-West match. Davie coach Collin Ferebee protested the legality of West’s lineup. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association ruled in Davie’s favor, and the 4-2 deficit was altered to 3-3. Davie was back in business.

In the regular-season finale at West on Oct. 8, the War Eagles captured two of three doubles, secured a giddy 5-4 win and celebrated a CPC three-peat.

Davie and Reagan are co-champs, both going 9-1 in the CPC. West and Reynolds tied for third at 5-5. Between 1985, Davie’s first year as a CPC member, and 2015, the War Eagles managed just one regular-season title. Then the 2018 seniors arrived on campus. In 2016, Davie went 10-0 and outlasted 8-2 Reynolds. In 2017, Davie and Reynolds shared the crown at 9-1. In 2018, the War Eagles squeezed out two 5-4 wins over Reynolds, edged Reagan 5-4 in the first meeting and pulled out another 5-4 nailbiter over West to share the title with Reagan.

The three-peat matched the feat of the 1975-77 War Eagles, who ruled the North Piedmont 3-A Conference three years in a row.

“I was really excited for the girls,” Ferebee said. “In a conference as strong as the CPC, you don’t see three-peats too often. To get that title, to keep it going and to do it at West was a huge deal because of the rivalry that goes back decades.”

No. 1 senior Laura Becker (6-1, 6-0) and No. 3 senior Amanda Ngo (6-2, 6-2) won without getting much resistance. Foster lost a heartbreaker at No. 2, dropping a third-set tiebreaker 10-6. Davie’s third singles win came at No. 5, where junior Aisulu Ball received a forfeit.

“West had an illegal lineup,” Ferebee said. “We had to discuss that with the authorities that be.”

At No. 1 doubles, Becker and Emery Rosenbaum made quick work of their counterparts, steamrolling 8-0. They went 1-1 as doubles partners in 2015, but they didn’t pair up in 2016 and 2017. They have fit beautifully as seniors, going 8-0 and outscoring opponents 64-17.

“We have really good chemistry,” Becker said. “We are good at setting each other up, and Emery’s really good at the net. If I set her up, she’s able to close it off up there.”

“We played together some when we were freshmen, and I was excited to be able to do that again,” Rosenbaum said. “She has really good placement. She can put the ball wherever she wants to. She’s always giving me really good tips about my serve and strategy-type things.”

West beat Ball/Ava Montebello 8-4 at No. 3 doubles, tying the team score 4-4.

Everything hinged on the outcome at No. 2 doubles. Foster and Ngo wobbled at times, but they eventually dropped the hammer on the Titans, 8-6, and saved the day for the War Eagles, who improved to 13-1 overall with their 14th consecutive win over West (7-6 overall).

“I think them playing together last year in the conference tournament and playing together all of this year – plus being seniors and they’ve known each other since South Davie – is what put them over the top,” Ferebee said.

Foster/Ngo held leads of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3 before they established a comfortable 6-3 margin. Then Davie’s plans almost went up in smoke as Lauren Kranis/Marion Idulsa rallied to tie it at 6-6. But when Foster/Ngo had to be good, when they absolutely had to make crisp shots in the closest match of their undefeated season, they did.

“It was nerve-racking knowing that it was probably going to come down to our doubles match,” Foster said. “We had made a big deal about the (illegal lineup) situation, and we didn’t want to lose the match because we would have made a big deal about nothing. It would have been a wasted opportunity. We both started jittery; we were nervous. But toward the end, we got less nervous and were hitting our shots better.”

“We had something to prove out there,” Ngo said. “We were both nervous, but we helped each other and we also had our whole team cheering us on.”

There’s a reason Foster is 12-2 this year in singles and 53-17 in her career. There’s a reason Ngo is 14-0 this year in singles and 58-3 in her career. There’s a reason Foster/Ngo went 6-1 in doubles last year and improved to 7-0 this year.

“(Foster) is very consistent at keeping the ball in, and she will outhit them by not making mistakes,” Becker said. “She is good at fighting. She always tries her best to come back during matches.(Ngo) has great finesse. She will slice it and move people around.”