Hounds’ Willard wins singles title, Holder clinches 3rd

By Jeff Linville

April 22, 2014

KING — North Surry won both tennis matches Tuesday morning to wrap up the Western Piedmont Conference Tournament.

North’s Corbin Willard won the singles title, and teammate Samuel Holder earned third place as the Greyhounds defeated their Wildcat opponents in straight sets.

The tennis tournament started Monday afternoon with the opening round, quarterfinals and semifinals all in one day.

Both Hounds played two games, with the second matches being long and grueling.

Despite the heavy workload on Monday, both players came out fresh at the start, said North coach Drew Belton. He said he pushed the players hard in practice all season long so they would have the stamina to survive a tourney like this.

Holder was the first to finish, beating West’s George Blankenship 6-2, 6-0.

“Samuel served very well today,” said Belton. “When he serves well, the rest of his game usually falls in line. He ended up playing very well.”

Holder lost a three-set match to West’s Jacob Covington in the semifinals, but rebounded to take third. The top four finishers all move on to play in the 2A regional tournament next week.

As for the title match, Belton said that Corbin has come up big in several matches this season and this was no exception.

Willard broke Covington in the first game, then both held serve for the next five games to make it 4-2 in Willard’s favor.

The Hound again broke Covington’s serve, and then served out the set in the next game.

The second set was unusual in that neither player was winning on his own serve, according to the coach.

West Stokes started the next set, and both players lost on their serve for nine games, putting Willard up 5-4.

He finally won on his own serve to finish off the 6-2, 6-4 championship.

The three wins in this week’s event raises Corbin’s conference record to 10-1, Belton noted.

Even though Willard was a second seed on his own team, the excellent record and conference title should equate to a high seeding at the regional event — if the seeding is determined by the coaches.

With the conference realignment this year, things could play out differently. How a player finished in his tournament could be the only determining factor, like it is with the state tournament.

In any case, Belton said he would work his players out three days next week before the 2A regional on that Friday in Lexington.

Willard and Holder will be joined by Surry Central’s two doubles teams that finished second and fourth the day before. Those players are Zach Wilmoth, Trent Day, Kirk Needham and Weston Mosley.

Belton said the coaches usually meet one hour before the start of the matches to find out how the brackets lay out.