GREENSBORO-The North Carolina A&T women's tennis team opened the 2013 season with some highs and lows in a 7-0 loss to Appalachian State at the Piedmont Indoor Tennis Center.
The Aggies (0-1) saw strong performances from senior Cayla Cross, who took Gabby Gabriel to three sets in the fourth singles match, and from junior Victorea Austin at the No. 2 singles position. However, sophomore Kenya Colbert, playing at the No. 1 spot in singles, had to retire from her match after her knee buckled in the middle of competition. Colbert had been fighting hard against Jennifer Ansari, and was down 4-1 before being helped off the court.
"I just hope and pray that Kenya's not hurt, because she's playing well," said head coach James Dunwoody.
One of the things that Dunwoody was especially pleased with was Cross' performance. Prior to the season, he said the team's success depended upon Cross and fellow senior Nianna Henry leading by example in competition.
Cross, after falling 6-2 to Gabriel in the first set, came back to capture the second 6-3. Cross kept her momentum going by taking a 2-0 lead in the third. However, Gabriel came back to tie the set and to take an 8-4 lead. Cross won the next point, but couldn't keep Gabriel from winning the last two to secure the victory. Dunwoody is pleased with the way Cross returned from winter break focused and with a competitive attitude.
The Aggies fell in doubles by scores of 8-1, 8-4 and 8-2 before being swept in the six singles matches.
"I think they played better, much better. Their attitudes are good. They gave everything they had," Dunwoody said. "They certainly played them better than we did last year."
Dunwoody said that having played this first match, he has a good idea of what the team can work on when they return to practice on Tuesday so that they can pick up some wins in their next match.
"I'm going to work on my doubles teams and their volleying, and I'm going to work on what to do with transitional balls. Those are offensive balls inside that court that you need to attack, in other words more short-ball feeds," he said, adding that he'll get his players to work on retaining a high racket speed when they go to attack short balls.
The Aggies will travel to Wofford for a 1 p.m., match on Saturday, Jan. 26. The Aggie freshmen will be earning some starting position in that contest to help them acclimate to the collegiate level. With five athletes graduating in May, Dunwoody said it's crucial for the 2013 freshman class to build up some experience.
"They've got to get their feet wet and I figure that the best way to manage getting their feet wet would be against a non-conference team," Dunwoody said. "I don't really want to take that risk if I play somebody in the conference. But right now, I'm going to take that risk that they play. They deserve it. I need to know what they're capable of doing."
Tennis Match Results
Appalachian State 7, North Carolina A&T 0
1. Jennifer Ansari (APP) def. COLBERT,Kenya (NCAT) retired, retired
2. Clare Cox (APP) def. AUSTIN,Victorea (NCAT) 6-1, 6-0
3. Brianna Armellino (APP) def. STALLING,Kimberly (NCAT) 6-2, 6-0
4. Gabby Gabriel (APP) def. CROSS,Cayla (NCAT) 6-2, 3-6, 10-5
5. Gabriela Celi (APP) def. SCOTT,Jayla (NCAT) 6-1, 6-1
6. Sarah King (APP) def. BURRAGE,April (NCAT) 6-1, 6-1
1. Jennifer Ansari/Clare Cox (APP) def. HENRY,Nianna/STALLING,Kimberly (NCAT) 8-1
2. Gabriela Celi/Brianna Armellino (APP) def. SCOTT,Jayla/CROSS,Cayla (NCAT) 8-4
3. Carson Shell/Sarah King (APP) def. COLBERT,Kenya/BURRAGE,April (NCAT) 8-2