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ON THE RISE. No. 1 Singles standout Turner Votipka has displayed marked improvement every season as a member of the Nash Central High School boys tennis squad under veteran mentor Susan McCarthy. (Graphic photos by Geoff Neville)
ROCKY MOUNT -- Finally, Susan McCarthy has a veteran group to work with as the head coach of the Nash Central High School boys tennis team.

McCarthy, the only court coach that Central has ever known, experienced plenty of success in the early stages of the program.

But over the past few years, the Bulldogs have rebuilt, beginning with a freshman-dominated squad three seasons ago.

The benefits of that process could begin this spring, though Central will be in the newly formed powerhouse Big East Conference, which will featured tradition-rich foe Southern Nash, along with Rocky Mount, Northern Nash, Wilson Fike and Wilson Hunt.

Despite what will almost certainly be a brutal schedule -- especially in the league -- McCarthy expects the Bulldogs to be much more successful than the 2009 squad, which claimed only one overall team match victory.

Nash Central finished last in the now-defunct NEW-6 Conference.

“We are more experienced than last year and should compete better,’’ McCarthy said. “We hope we can improve on (last season’s) standing and look forward to placing better in our conference tournament at the end of the season.’’

McCarthy is upbeat because the Bulldogs will welcome back their Top 4 rotation players -- all of whom are now three-year veterans.

Leading the group is No. 1 singles performer Turner Votipka.

Over the past few campaigns, Votipka has worked hard to improve the power and consistency of both his groundstrokes and serves.

Votipka has played in the summer for the Nash County contingent, and the improvement in his game has been dramatic.

Votipka displayed his skills Monday when the Bulldogs opened their 2010 schedule with a 9-0 home victory against non-league foe Hertford County at the NCHS Courts.

The talented Votipka wasted no time in defeating Hertford County’s Mit Patel by a 6-0, 6-0 score as Central’s No. 1 didn’t drop a single game during the match.

Olsen Bunn, at No. 2 Singles, equalled that accomplishment with a 6-0, 6-0 conquest of Hertford County’s Devon Gay.

Like Votipka, Bunn has plenty of experience to draw on.

So do Tyler Lawrence (No. 3 Singles) and Tyrone Davis (No. 4 Singles). Both are back for their third seasons with the program.

Also returning is three-year performer Anthony Silveri.

And the best news for Nash Central is that the Bulldogs are still young.

McCarthy’s crew will have just one senior this spring -- No. 6 Singles player Cable Beck.

During Monday’s opener in blustery conditions, Beck cruised to a singles victory against Aaron Freeman. Scores were 6-0, 6-0 in Beck’s favor.

Central, now 1-0 overall on the campaign, will continue its season today with a non-league matchup at Class 2-A power Roanoke Rapids.

Action will begin with singles matches at 4 p.m. in Halifax County.

Nash Central’s scores from Monday’s boys tennis opener against the Hertford County Bears were as follows:

Nash Central 6,
Hertford County 0

• No. 1 Singles -- Turner Votipka (Nash Central) def. Mit Patel 6-0, 6-0
• No. 2 Singles -- Olsen Bunn (Nash Central) def. Devon Gay 6-0, 6-0
• No. 3 Singles -- Tyler Lawrence (Nash Central) def. Cody Clark 6-1, 6-1
• No. 4 Singles -- Tyrone Davis (Nash Central) def. Allen Jones 6-2, 7-5
• No. 5 Singles -- Zachary Connor (Nash Central) def. Charlie Everette 6-0, 6-1
• No. 6 Singles -- Cable Beck (Nash Central) def. Aaron Freeman 6-0, 6-0
• No. 1 Doubles -- Votipka-Davis (Nash Central) def. Patel-Jones 8-0
• No. 2 Doubles -- Bunn-Lawrence (Nash Central) def. Everette-Gay 8-2
• No. 3 Singles -- Connor-Beck (Nash Central) def. Clark-Dominique Smith 8-3
• Team Records -- Nash Central 1-0, Hertford County 0-0
• Next up for Nash Central -- Today at 4 p.m. on the road versus Roanoke Rapids

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