Tigers to face top-ranked Unicorns|Winner heads to Dual Team state meet

Published 3:03 am Thursday, November 5, 2009

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
WILLIAMSTON — The Williamston Tigers are a step away from playing for a state championship. Standing in their way are the N.C. School of Science and Math Unicorns, the top-ranked (and undefeated) team in the state. The two teams meet in today’s semifinals of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A Dual Team Tennis tournament at the West Ends Tennis Courts in Williamston.
“It’s going to take a great effort (to win),” Williamston coach Matt Matthews said. “They’re ranked No. 1 in the state right now, but our girls are playing well. This is the best they’ve played and they’re peaking at the right time. We hope to win.”
The Tigers (15-5), the Four Rivers Conference champions, advanced with a 5-1 win over Dixon in Tuesday’s third round. Williamston had beaten Gates County, 8-1, in the second round after dusting off Lejeune, 6-0, in the first round.
NCSSM (17-0), the Carolina 9 Conference champions, cruised to a 6-0 win over Ayden-Grifton in the third round. The Unicorns also swept Pender (6-0) in the second round and Rosewood (6-0) in the first round.
While this is the deepest the Williamston girls have gone in Dual Team play, NCSSM won the Dual Team championship in 2007. The Unicorns actually beat the Tigers, 6-0, in the first round that year.
Sara Chesson, Williamston’s No. 2 singles player, said she had her teammates will have to go into the match with a positive attitude.
“I think the key is the mental part,” Chesson said. “I think we have the shots and the determination. It’s just going to take focus.”
Kate Matthews, Williamston’s No. 1 singles player, agreed.
“We have to believe in ourselves,” Kate Matthews said.
That attitude helped lead the doubles duo of Matthews-Chesson to the individual state championships. The pair lost in three sets in a close first-round match
“(The key was) getting our teamwork down pact,” Kate Matthews said. “That’s really important. Communication and working well together are important.
“We’re pretty even and I think that’s what makes us such a strong team.”
Coach Matthews, the father of Kate, said the doubles team worked hard to achieve success.
“They put in extra work,” coach Matthews said. “Outside of our practices, they play on the weekends and play during the summer. They put in a lot of time and effort.
“It’s coming around to help them at the right time of the year.”
He’s hoping that helps pay off today.
Along with the exceptional play of Matthews and Chesson, the Tigers have received big wins from Karson Edwards, Samantha Jones, Kellen Edwards and Brittany Keener.
The Tigers are excited about today’s challenge of facing the Unicorns, who are led by the state doubles championship team of Teresa Pincus-Laura Outlaw, and state qualifier Nelessa Lewis.
Today’s winner faces either second-ranked Mount Airy (15-2), the Northwest Conference champions, or fourth-ranked East Montgomery (16-0), the Yadkin Valley Conference champions, in Saturday’s state championship match in Burlington.