GREENSBORO-The North Carolina A&T tennis team swung into action on Friday, hosting its season opener against the Elon Phoenix at the Piedmont Indoor Tennis Center.
Despite their intense attitude and hard work, the Aggies were unable to make the key shots when needed, and fell to the Phoenix by a final score of 7-0. The Aggies (0-1) and the Phoenix (1-1) played very competitive doubles and singles matches, and head coach James Dunwoody was pleased with his team's effort.
"I think based on what I saw, we're as good as Elon," he said. "Elon just makes the big shots. When it came time for us to make the big shots, we didn't. But it was a very competitive match, with our ground strokes in the doubles and singles. The scores don't indicate how close it was."
Dunwoody noted in the past that a match against Elon would normally take less than an hour. But today, the Aggies competed for nearly 2 ½ hours. Not only were the Aggies battling more, but the Phoenix players and coaching staff were also taking the Aggies more seriously than they have in the past.
"Normally their coaches don't come to the match. They were there today. Normally, the Elon players act casual, and are laughing, but not today. They weren't laughing and grinning today-they were playing," Dunwoody said.
The Aggies started off in doubles and lost each match, to give Elon the first point of the contest. Doubles partners April Burrage and Kenya Colbert and Nianna Henry and Kimberly Stalling both lost their respective matches by an 8-2 final. Cayla Cross and Azeib Nigatu lost their match by a score of 8-0 against Katy Canada and Viviana Stavera.
"As far as doubles team production, I think Stalling and Henry will be tough," Dunwoody said. "Their skills are enhanced because they both use volley technique in doubles."
He added that Henry and Stalling were down 3-2 at one point before Elon pulled ahead.
"They just missed easy shots," he said. "The coaching challenge going forward is to shore up our volleys to get a chance to attack and make it count."
Stalling started off the Aggies at the No. 1 spot, taking on Bryn Khoury. She lost by scores of 6-2, 0-6.
Cross battled Barboa Lazarova, and walked away with a 6-3, 6-0 loss. Victorea Austin, who got the singles starting nod over freshman Colbert, competed against Briana Berne, and fell, 6-0, 6-0.
In the fourth spot, Nigatu and Maria Camara Ruiz battled it out. Nigatu won games in both sets, but lost by 6-2, 6-2. On the fifth court at the Piedmont Indoor Tennis Center, Henry took on Canada and lost, 6-0, 6-0. In the No. 6 spot, Burrage and Kaylyn Smialek competed, and Smialek won, 6-2, 6-2.
For Dunwoody, Burrage's performance was a highlight from the singles play.
"She plays tennis like a 4.0 GP A student-analytical," he said, adding that she had a strong fighting spirit on the court in the match. "She's smart on the court. She didn't ever give in, and was always going wide open."
The Aggies will head to Boone to take on Appalachian State at 3 p.m., on Saturday. The Aggies will host their next home game on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m., competing against the Wofford Terriers at the Piedmont Indoor Tennis Center.
1. Bryn Khoury (ELON) def. STALLING, Kimberly (NCATW) 6-2, 6-0
2. Barbora Lazarova (ELON) def. CROSS, Cayla (NCATW) 6-3, 6-0
3. Briana Berne (ELON) def. AUSTIN, Victorea (NCATW) 6-0, 6-0
4. Maria Camara Ruiz (ELON) def. NIGATU, Azeib (NCATW) 6-2, 6-1
5. Katy Canada (ELON) def. HENRY, Nianna (NCATW) 6-0, 6-0
6. Kaylyn Smialek (ELON) def. BURRAGE, April (NCATW) 6-2, 6-2
1. Frida Jansaker/Jordan Johnston (ELON) def. BURRAGE, April/COLBERT, Kenya (NCATW) 8-2
2. Katy Canada/Viviana Stavreva (ELON) def. NIGATU, Azeib/CROSS, Cayla (NCATW) 8-0
3. Kaylyn Smialek/Maria Camara Ruiz (ELON) def. HENRY, Nianna/STALLING, Kimberly (NCATW) 8-2