Salisbury tennis eliminated
By Bret Strelow
OAKBORO ó Salisbury coach Chris Myers stood next to the four seniors who had gathered at the gazebo stationed outside West Stanly’s tennis courts, and they watched the two underclassmen in the Hornets’ lineup finish a doubles match that had no impact on the outcome.Austin Flynn and Steven Page have bright futures, but the dual-team careers of Joe Goodman, Tyler Heilig, Benton Whitaker and Carl Ritchie ended Tuesday with a 6-3 loss to the Colts in the first round of the 2A playoffs.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys we can build a strong foundation around, but it’s hard to replace Joe, Carl, Benton and Tyler,” Myers said. “We had so many good times and so many learning times the last four years.”West Stanly, which fell 6-3 to Salisbury two months ago in the second match of the season, advanced to a second-round meeting with Ledford.
The Panthers split with the Hornets during the regular season and finished behind them and CCC champion Lexington, also a first-round winner, in the conference standings.A potentially favorable draw turned futile for Salisbury.
“Maybe that’s partially my fault and maybe we were looking ahead a little bit, but it sure did look pretty promising,” Myers said. “About everyone in our quarter of the bracket we had beaten. It just shows you the depth out there. On any given day, somebody can beat the other one.”
Salisbury (12-4) won the first three completed matches, but West Stanly (11-4) pulled out the rest. The doubles tandem of Marty Little-Alex Swaringen gave the Colts the lead with a 10-3 victory against Goodman-Whitaker, and Andrew Smith-Trey Ennis clinched the team victory with a 10-2 win against Heilig-Ritchie. Flynn-Page lost 10-6 to Boone Mabe-Andrew Wilson.Salisbury led 4-2 in the first meeting and won two of the three doubles matches.
“The first time we played them, they were a totally different team,” Heilig said. “They got all their serves in and corrected all their mistakes. Everybody, I thought, played pretty good tennis.”
That was especially true for Salisbury at the start.
Page opened singles play with a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Swaringen at No. 3, and Flynn followed with a 6-1, 7-5 win against Little at No. 2. Heilig prevailed 6-1, 6-3 against Mabe at No. 5, but West Stanly broke through when Ennis wrapped up a 6-4, 6-0 decision against Whitaker at No. 4.
The Colts capped singles with two narrow victories. Goodman fell 6-4, 6-4 to Smith at No. 1, and Ritchie lost 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) to Wilson at No. 6.
Goodman trailed 4-0 and 5-1 in the second set against Smith, who lost to Heilig in the first meeting between the schools, before pulling within 5-4. Goodman served at 30-all, but Smith won the next two points.
Ritchie led 5-2 in the first set and 5-1 in the second set. Wilson evened the second set before Ritchie earned a break for a 6-5 lead, and Wilson forced a tiebreaker. Ritchie jumped ahead 4-1, and Wilson captured the final six points.A tie heading into doubles wasn’t a bad scenario given Salisbury’s success in early March, but West Stanly eliminated the suspense with a sweep.
“We were going in 3-3 and last time our No. 2 and 3 doubles won handily, but that was the second match of the year,” Myers said.
“Those guys were more aggressive than us and had us on our heels from the first point, especially in doubles.”n
Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or email@example.com.