The difference to an easier playoffs road for Rocky Mount High came down to Bob Marley.
In an effort to relax one of his players before the biggest match of the season, Gryphons girls’ tennis coach Barry Nethercutt gave Katie Mizelle a CD of the great reggae artist.
Mizelle listened to “Three Little Birds” on an endless loop on the drive from campus to Belmont Lake.
By the end of the afternoon, everything was quite all right for Rocky Mount, which edged Wilson Hunt, 5-4, to give the Gryphons the Big East Conference’s No. 1 seed when the NCHSAA 3-A state playoffs begin next week.
Mizelle’s match was the difference.
With the score tied, 4-4, Mizelle defeated Wilson Hunt’s Megan Parker 6-2, 6-3 to clinch the match.
“It was a real college-type atmosphere for a high school tennis match,” Nethercutt said. “I knew Katie was nervous. I gave her Bob Marley to calm her down, which seems to work. Whatever works, I guess.”
Rocky Mount and Wilson Hunt each finished the regular season with 9-1 conference records.
The two squads were supposed to meet Monday at Northern Nash, but the match was postponed becuase of rain. Tuesday’s forecast wasn’t much better, and the Gryphons and Warriors agreed to play indoors at Belmont Lake.
Rocky Mount’s victory seemingly gives them an easier road through the playoffs. The Gryphons will play host to the Mid-State’s No. 2 seed Tuesday in the first round.
If the squad wins, it will play at home in the second round as well.
Meanwhile, Wilson Hunt will travel to play perennial state championship contender Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons in the first round.
That was a scenario both teams wanted to avoid, but only the Gryphons had Mizelle and the right choice of music.
“They were excited as they could be when Katie won that last point,” Nethercutt said. “We’ve worked really hard. I hope they see that hard work makes a difference.”
Rocky Mount High 5
Wilson Hunt 4
Singles: Taylor Love (WH) def. Chandler Brice 6-4, 6-0; Eliza Fike (RMH) def. Kelsey Lineberger 6-0, 6-0; Stasha Kane (WH) def. Mary Blair Thompson 6-3, 6-4; Tanner Brice (RMH) def. Emma Lantz 6-1, 6-0; Emily Batchelor (WH) def. Allison Binkley 6-0, 6-2; Katie Mizelle (RMH) def. Megan Parker 6-2, 6-3
Doubles: Love/Kane (WH) def. Brice/Brice 8-1; Fike/Thompson (RMH) def. Lineberger Danni Harris 8-1; Binkley/Mizelle (RMH) def. Batchelor/Parker 8-6
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or firstname.lastname@example.org