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With no solution for Rocky Mount’s aggravating patience and consistency, the Fike High girls tennis team tumbled from the ranks of the unbeaten on a rather bizarre Tuesday afternoon and evening on the Fike courts.
In a showdown of overall and conference unbeatens, the Lady Golden Demons were dealt a 7-2 setback by Rocky Mount in the 3-A Big East Conference headliner for outright possession of the conference lead.
Fike experienced defeat for the first time in 11 matches and dipped to 3-1 in the conference. Directed by first-year coach Charlie Lawrence Jr. the Lady Gryphons, defending champions, departed 4-0 and 6-0, respectively.
The match’s start was delayed over a half hour because of lightning and, during singles, lightning again stopped play. Under the lights, singles were completed and doubles contested.
Rocky Mount, up 4-2 after singles, clinched with an 8-1 conquest from its No. 2 doubles team of senior M.K. Broderick-junior Caroline Land against the Fike tandem of junior Avery Rose Brown-sophomore Sophia Meszaros.
The outcome capped a gut-wrenching day for Brown. In singles, Brown erased a 5-2 deficit to capture the opening set via a 7-1 tiebreaker. But after losing the second set, she lost a 10-7 tiebreaker that constituted the third set to Rocky Mount’s Browder.
With Brown leading 3-2, Browder claimed the marathon sixth point and forged a 9-3 cushion before weathering Brown’s desperation late charge.
Matthews pointed out that, even with a new coach, Rocky Mount’s style of play hadn’t changed.
“They just try to keep everything in play and play the high-percentage shot,” Matthews explained. “If you make a mistake and they see a chance to go for a winner, they will. They just don’t have unforced errors. They listened to Charlie; they played straight defense in every match.”
The pleased Lawrence concurred. The Lady Gryphons prevailed despite the absence of No. 2 player Katie Moss, a senior, with an ankle injury.
“I feel pretty good,” Lawrence expressed. “All the girls arose to the occasion. They believe in each other and never give up. I tell them to not go for big shots and keep it in play. Make (the opposition) hit it again — that’s my theory.”
Fike claimed the first point with, at No. 6, sophomore Cappa Hill upping her record to 10-1 with a 6-0, 6-1 victory. Also coming away 10-1 was junior Logan Adkins at No. 1. Adkins erased a 3-1 deficit to turn back Caroline Broderick 6-3, 6-2. Broderick committed just four unforced errors and effectively attacked with lob shots.
“I finally figured it out,” Adkins said. “I’m a pace player and I thrive where there’s pace on the ball. I had to adapt to her game for mine to be successful. You’ve got to be patient.
“My first set was a little iffy, but I got my mind into it and started playing tennis instead of thinking about tennis.”
Rocky Mount got singles wins from Browder at No. 2, senior M.K. Broderick at No. 3, junior Caroline Land at No. 4 and senior Maddie Dalsimer at No. 5.
In doubles, Fike’s Adkins-Thomas, at No. 1, suffered its first loss by an 8-5 margin to Caroline Broderick-Browder. Adkins-Thomas trimmed a 3-0 deficit to 6-5 and failed on four occasions to string together a pair of points that would have produced a 6-6 standoff.
“We didn’t expect it to be easy,” Matthews noted. “Nothing we ever do with Rocky Mount is ever easy.”
ROCKY MOUNT 7, FIKE 2
Logan Adkins (F) def. Caroline Broderick 6-3, 6-2; Carson Browder (RM) def. Avery Rose Brown 6-7 (1-7), 6-3, (10-7); M.K. Broderick (RM) def. Anna Blair Thomas 6-2, 6-2; Caroline Land (RM) def. Sophia Meszaros 6-2, 6-0; Maddie Dalsimer (RM) def. Mia Hamblin 7-6 (7-2), 6-1; Cappa Hill (F) def. Polly Medlin 6-0, 6-1.
C. Broderick-Browder (RM) def. Adkins-Thomas 8-5; M. Broderick-Land (RM) def. Meszaros-Brown 8-1; Dalsimer-Marta Lopez (RM) def. Hamblin-Hill 8-2.