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Aggie Tennis Wins, Improve To 1-0 in the MEAC

Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
          Release: 01/29/2012
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Nianna Henry returns a volley. Photo by Kevin L. Dorsey
Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
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SAVANNAH, Ga.-Well, it looks like James Dunwoody doesn't have to worry about being kicked out of his home anytime soon.

Following the team's loss to Wofford, the North Carolina A&T women's tennis head coach joked, "My wife says I need to get a win sooner than later, to get back to being a normal person.  I've got to get a win sooner or I think she might kick me out of the house for being evil." 

And they got that win on Sunday at Savannah State, defeating the Tigers, 5-2, to pull to 1-3 on the season and 1-0 in the MEAC.

It was important day at the Tiger Tennis Complex.  Not only was it the first conference match of the season for both A&T and Savannah State, but it was also the first MEAC match in Tigers tennis program history.

And the Aggies ensured that the Tigers started out their program 0-1 in MEAC play, competing for nearly four hours on Sunday.

The Aggies walked away from the Tiger Tennis Complex with their first win of the season, which puts them at the top of the MEAC Southern Division.  The Aggies already improved upon their win total in conference play from last year, as they went 0-4.  The only win the Aggies totaled last season came against Savannah State, who was a non-conference opponent at that time.

The Aggies picked up the doubles point to get things going. 

"The doubles point is a major point in DI tennis because when you win the doubles point, when you start the singles out, you're already up 1-0," said head coach James Dunwoody, who is in his seventh season at the helm of the A&T women's tennis program.  "It enhances your outlook, it enhances your motivation levels."

Senior Azeib Nigatu and junior Cayla Cross took down Sandra Kristjansdottir and Nicole Ashiedu by a 8-4 final.  In the second doubles match, Nianna Henry and Kimberly Stalling fell to Esmira Ghesiary and Chandel McDonie by 6-8.  But then Kenya Colbert and April Burrage picked up the 8-2 win against Shannon Howard and Ge'Anne Hilton to get the doubles point for the Aggies.

The Aggies then took that momentum into their singles play.  Cross defeated Kristjansdottir by 6-1, 6-4.  Sophomore Stalling also won her match by 6-1, 6-1, besting McDonie.  Junior Burrage took down Hilton by 6-1, 6-2.  Sophomore Victorea Austin got her third start in singles on the year, and won her match against Davita Washington 6-2, 6-2.  Two of the Aggies lost their singles match, but took their opponent to three sets for a tie-breaker.  Ashiedu defeated freshman starter Colbert, 4-6, 6-3, 10-8. 

Nigatu fell, 6-7, 6-3, 5-7 to Gheisary.

"I was up the whole first set.  Then in the second set, she just played a little bit better, and I was making a few more errors," said Nigatu about her singles match.  "It was a long battle."

Nigatu, A&T's team captain, was proud of the team's performance and of earning the first win of the season.

"Everybody played really well," Nigatu said. "Everybody fought and stayed out for a long time and stayed consistent.  Everybody stayed with the game plan, which was to fight."

The Aggies will next play 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4 at Davidson.  Nigatu said that the Aggies will take what they learned today into that match against the Wildcats, and they'll follow the same game plan.

"We'll fight, stay out there as long as we can and build on what we practice each week," she said.

Singles competition

1. CROSS,Cayla (NCAT) def. KRISTJANSDOTTIR,Sand (SSUW) 6-1, 6-4

2. GHEISARY,Esmira (SSUW) def. NIGUTA,Azeib (NCAT) 7-6, 3-6, 7-5

3. ASHIEDU,Nicole (SSUW) def. COLBERT,Kenya (NCAT) 4-6, 6-3, 10-8

4. STALLING,Kimberly (NCAT) def. MCDONIE,Chandel (SSUW) 6-1, 6-1

5. BURRAGE,April (NCAT) def. HILTON,Ge'Anne (SSUW) 6-1, 6-2

6. AUSTIN,Victorea (NCAT) def. WASHINGTON,Davita (SSUW) 6-2, 6-2

Doubles competition

1. NIGUTA,Azeib/CROSS,Cayla (NCAT) def. KRISTJANSDOTTIR,Sand/ASHIEDU,Nicole (SSUW) 8-4

2. GHEISARY,Esmira/MCDONIE,Chandel (SSUW) def. HENRY,Nianna/STALLING,Kimberly (NCAT) 8-6

3. COLBERT,Kenya/BURRAGE,April (NCAT) def. HOWARD,Shannon/HILTON,Ge'Anne (SSUW) 8-2

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