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Prep Tennis: Lexington 5, Salisbury 4

By Bret Strelow
Salisbury Post
LEXINGTON ó Salisbury shared the CCC boys tennis title with Lexington last year and won a decisive third match that determined postseason seeding.
More tiebreakers entered the picture Tuesday even though the teams were meeting for the first time in 2008.
Lexington claimed the first two completed doubles matches and won 5-4 against the Hornets at Bingham Tennis Center. The top-seeded tandem of Justin Miller-Charlie Jordan sealed the outcome with a 7-5, 6-7 (3-7), (10-5) victory against Joe Goodman-Benton Whitaker.Six tiebreakers were contested in the four-hour affair, and the Yellow Jackets (8-2, 6-0 CCC) bumped Salisbury (10-1, 7-1) out of first place in the conference standings.
“Every time we play Lexington, it’s the closest place to Salisbury, but we always stay there the longest because our players are similar and the matches are always the closest here,” Goodman said. “It could have gone either way, and it just happened that they won it this time. They played good.”
The last three matches between the schools have concluded with a 5-4 final score.
Salisbury prevailed 6-3 in the first meeting of 2007, and Lexington bounced back to earn a split of the regular-season series. Eleven of the 13 participants from the third installment played again Tuesday.
The Yellow Jackets didn’t lose a single player from their top six of a year ago.
“This one was a little different,” Lexington coach Varner Sink said. “For the first time, I think we actually thought we had a chance to win. The first time we won it was unexpected and we were playing for everything to gain and nothing to lose.
“This time we were playing with a little more tentativeness and tightness because we felt like we were trying to defend something.”
Goodman, Austin Flynn and Steven Page led Salisbury’s sweep of the top three singles spots, but the Yellow Jackets took the other three matches.
Lexington’s Charles Chisholm-Grayson Bates opened doubles with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Tyler Heilig-Carl Ritchie, and the pairing of Flynn-Page was working toward a 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, (12-10) victory against Hunter Davis-Alan Heiss when Miller-Jordan clinched the team win.
Goodman and Whitaker were one point away from winning the first set. They fell behind 5-0 in the third-set tiebreaker, pulled to within 6-5 and then lost the final four points.
“We had some strengths, and I think they had some strengths, and that would be in doubles,” Salisbury coach Chris Myers said. “With the experience they’ve had, those three teams have played together for a number of years now, and doubles is a game of feel and a game of knowing your partner. We’re still working on that.”
Lexington, which lost twice to Western Guilford last week, jumped ahead of the Hornets when Heiss won 6-4, 6-2 against Heilig at No. 4.
Goodman completed a comeback at No. 1 to even the score. He took a 2-6, 7-5, (10-2) decision against Miller. Goodman broke Miller’s serve at love to end the second set and won six of the first seven points in the supertiebreaker.
“My coach gave me a few words of wisdom, and it helped me out,” Goodman said. “After I came back, it was easier to get right back into it.”
The Yellow Jackets pulled ahead again when Bates wrapped up a 6-3, 7-5 win against Ritchie at No. 6, and Flynn stayed unbeaten with a 6-4, 7-5 victory against Jordan at No. 2.
Whitaker fell 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 to Chisholm at No. 5, and Page maintained his unblemished singles record by collecting a 6-4, 6-3 win against Davis at No. 3.
Page, a freshman, was the only member of either lineup who wasn’t involved in the rivalry last year.
“I was really nervous at the beginning of my singles match,” Page said. “I think I just did what I could, and that’s all I can do.”
The teams were originally scheduled to square off in Salisbury on March 19, but rain forced a postponement. The Hornets traveled to Bingham Tennis Center on Monday, and the match was pushed forward one day because of more rain.
Salisbury will finally play host to the Yellow Jackets next Tuesday, and the Hornets need a win to salvage a split this time.
“A couple of points here and there and the score could have been opposite in our favor,” Myers said. “We have no complaints other than the score. They played well, competed hard, and we’ll go and practice and try to get better and try to beat them in the rematch.
“Hopefully we can return the favor. Hopefully the cards play out like they did for them last year.”
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NOTE: Results are in Scoreboard.
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Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or bstrelow@salisburypost.com.

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