By: Brian Pitts Davie County EnterpriseWhen Davie senior Laura Becker arrived at Millbrook Exchange Park in Raleigh on Oct. 27-28, it was her fourth time appearing in the tennis state championships.

When she walked off the court on Sunday afternoon, her time was up as a War Eagle. She will never compete for the orange and black again, but she will never be forgotten.

Becker was more than a generational player. She’s the unchallenged all-time best in the program’s 44-year history. Period. End of discussion. She’s the best by such a margin there might not be a No. 2.

The greatest era of Davie girls tennis saw the War Eagles capture four conference tournaments and three straight regular seasons. They compiled a 56-7 record, going 13-2, 16-1, 14-2 and 13-2. Between 1975-2014, a span of 40 years, Davie managed five championships (regular seasons/conference tournaments). With Becker representing the face of the program, Davie snatched seven such titles in four years.

“Not only did they get to practice against her, which made them better, they got to talk to her about her insights, which made them better,” coach Collin Ferebee said. “And with her being at one let Sierra (Foster) play two and Amanda (Ngo) play three and let them play opponents they could beat most of the time. That confidence just builds the whole team, everyone starts rolling and you get three (regular-season) championships in a row.”

•••

As a freshman, Becker lost in the state quarterfinals to Amanda Cyr of Panther Creek. As a sophomore, she lost in the quarterfinals to Lauren Gish of Lake Norman. As a junior, she lost in the semifinals to Jenna Thompson of South Mecklenburg.

With 16 players in the 2018 mix, the first round and quarterfinals were held on Saturday, Oct. 27. Becker had no problems with Becket Waters of Broughton and Elyse Duley of Myers Park. She cruised 6-3, 6-0 and 6-3, 6-2, respectively.

“I thought I started slow (in the first round), but once I got going I played well,” Becker said. “Again I started slow (in the quarterfinals), but played better as the match went on.”

The bracket – Becker was seeded on the opposite side of the state’s foremost player, Thompson – suggested a Becker breakthrough to the state finals was quite possible.

But senior Sibel Tanik of Raleigh Sanderson had other ideas. Tanik steamrolled to the Sunday semifinal by eliminating Reagan’s Caroline Richter 6-0, 6-0 and Independence’s Madeline Fowler 6-1, 6-0.

Becker entered with a 22-0 record. She had thrashed opponents 245-28 in games. Tanik was sporting an undefeated record as well. She was no stranger to big matches, having lost in the 2017 semifinals just like Becker.

Becker’s dream of reaching the final disappeared as Tanik played an exquisite match to win 6-0, 6-2. Tanik elevated her game to a new level in Becker’s eyes and exhausted Becker with a wave of on-or-near-the-line shots.

Becker said: “We have played since we were 10 and have had close matches before, but she played the best I’ve ever seen her play, and I really didn’t have any answers because she was hitting lines. She’s normally not as consistent as she was (this time). We’ve only played once since we were 10 in singles and I lost 6-4, 6-4. But I have won against her in doubles before.”

Ferebee said: “Sibel was on it. After I got home, I sent Laura a message: ‘I’m always on your side. I’m always in your corner. I’m always going to be there for you. But not a whole lot of people were beating her today.’ It wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen Laura play, but she played very well. Nine days out of 10 – the way she played, especially in the second set – she’s going to win. It just happened to be one out of 10.”

It’s got to be hard to accept defeat then you had won 71 of 73 matches in three seasons, but Becker handled the setback gracefully.

Ferebee said: “She was definitely upset. Any time you step off for the last time … Of course, she’s not done. She’s going to play in college and do well there. But it’s still the ending of part of your career. I know she was upset to lose, but she handled it well. She held her emotions in check. Some people from the Raleigh press were there talking to her. As always she was polite and kind and humble.”

The consolation: Becker lost to a worthy finalist. In the singles championship match, Tanik gave Thompson fits. Tanik, who was 13-0, took the first set 7-5. Thompson, a junior, won the next two 6-4, 6-2 to walk off with her third state title.

Becker said: “(Tanik) proved it when she took a set off of Jenna in the finals, because Jenna is obviously the top player in the state.”

Ferebee said: “I think that helped Laura, seeing they went three sets. Thompson is ranked No. 29 in the country. She is being recruited heavily by N.C. State and some other schools like that. The fact that Sibel could do 7-5, 4-6, 2-6 with her says how good Sibel is.”

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At the turn of the century, a future Davie superstar was born in Nashville, Tn., the daughter of Reynolds and Beverly. The Beckers moved to Advance when Laura was 1.

Her father played a huge role in her tennis development.

“My dad played in high school,” she said. “I started playing at 8, but I didn’t start playing competitively until I was 10. He helped me get better by practicing with me and taking me to tournaments.”

Becker attended Ellis Middle before arriving at Davie and immediately becoming the heart and soul of the program. She didn’t rewrite the record book, she shattered it.

She went 91-8 in singles, going 20-5, 24-1, 25-1 and 22-1. She went 26-5 in doubles. Her singles/doubles career record was 117-13. She snatched the regional singles hardware four times, going 15-0 in those tournaments and outscoring opponents by a cartoonish margin of 172-31.

Becker is ranked No. 18 in North Carolina among 2019 seniors and is No. 108 in the Southeast.

“I haven’t played enough USTA tournaments this year to really have an accurate ranking, but my high in September was 169th in the nation,” she said.

Becker, though, was defined by much more than stats. She’s an exemplary young lady. She’s as grounded as it gets for someone at her talent level.

Ferebee said: “Besides the fact that I always had someone I could count on, what a  role model she was for the rest of the girls. Just because you’re good doesn’t mean you can act like you’re better than everyone else. Laura was the epitome of I’m going to be a team player. She answered questions from everyone. She talked to all skill levels. She never acted like she was better, and that’s hard to find – someone who is that good who has such a mature head about it.”

Becker said: “I cherish the friendships that I have made with my teammates. I am proud of the success we have had as a team over the past four years. I was very happy that I was able to win four regionals, and I am proud to have represented Davie High School and the community. Most of all, I am appreciative of all the support I have received. It’s been an awesome four years.”

Becker lured Division-I offers from Siena, Radford, St. Joseph’s, Saint Francis and USC Upstate. She accepted a scholarship offer from Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., which is around 730 miles and 11 hours from home. Becker will graduate from Davie in December and start classes at Siena in January.

Becker said: “The coach is nice, they gave me a good offer and it’s a really nice area. The girls are on the team are nice, too.”

And then: “I’m a little scared because it’s so far, but it will be cool to see a new place.”

In August 2019, it will be different not seeing Becker at the top of the Davie ladder. Years down the road, a ton of paragraphs will be written about Becker’s golden career and Davie’s historic era.

 
 
 

 

 


 
 
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