Prep Tennis: Lebowitz-Meyerhoeffer win doubles title
By Bret Strelow
RALEIGH ó Salisbury seniors Kirstin Meyerhoeffer and Shea Comadoll shared a hotel room Friday night, then split up once they arrived at N.C. State’s indoor tennis facility Saturday morning.
Only then did their competitive streak come out.
Salisbury’s top two doubles teams met in the 2A championship match, and Meyerhoeffer-Hannah Lebowitz won 6-0, 6-1 against Comadoll-Joy Loeblein.
The members of the Hornets’ top six occupied two rooms on the eve of the final, and Lebowitz stayed with a pair of freshmen in Loeblein and Erika Nelson. Brooke Johnson was the third senior in the other room, and the budding rivalry between Meyerhoeffer and Comadoll didn’t deprive anyone of rest.
“We were joking about kicking each other in our sleep or calling every 30 minutes to wake the other one up,” Meyerhoeffer said. “After seeing them play so well (Friday), I realized how much I wanted to play them in the end. No matter what, I was glad our team did so well.”
Saturday’s match marked the 10th time in NCHSAA history that doubles teams from the same school squared off for a state title. East Chapel Hill accomplished the feat as recently as 2003, and Salisbury’s Elizabeth Wurster-Jamie Graham beat teammates Katie Webb-Natalie Leonard in 1995 and 1996.
A doubles final was an all-Salisbury affair for the third time in this postseason. Lebowitz-Meyerhoeffer won 6-1, 7-6 (7-1) in the CCC tournament and 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) in the Midwest Regional.
“I think the intensity definitely was picking up, and I think each time both teams went in with a different mindset,” Lebowitz said. “The first match I think we were both a little nervous, and the second match I think Kirstin and I felt even more nervous because we had already done it once.
“This time we’d been with them all weekend, and we were happy to be here playing in the finals. It was an amazing experience.”
Lebowitz-Meyerhoeffer (20-1) claimed the first eight games Saturday, although three of the first four went to deuce.
Loeblein served with her team facing a 1-0 deficit, and Comadoll produced three winners from the net. Lebowitz and Meyerhoeffer still managed to pull ahead 2-0, and they converted 4 of 9 break-point chances in the match.
“They figured us out by this time and would do exactly what we didn’t want them to do,” Comadoll said.
“When you’re on the court, they’re still your opponent, but when they come off, they are your teammates. You want to congratulate them, but you still feel bad that you lost.”
Lebowitz dropped only four of a possible 21 points on her serve. She held at love twice in the opening set, and Comadoll-Loeblein (20-3) took one point in the first game of the second set.
“Kirstin’s been playing so well at the net, so I knew if I put in a good serve it’d be a lot easier for her to get a hold of the next ball,” Lebowitz said.
Lebowitz, a junior, reached the semifinals in the singles portion of the event last year.
Meyerhoeffer and Comadoll didn’t even crack Salisbury’s top six until their junior seasons, and now they’ve earned all-state recognition. Meyerhoeffer played at No. 4 for the Hornets last year, and she’s seeded second on the team as a senior.
“It feels good that the work has paid off,” Meyerhoeffer said. “I’m so glad to have Hannah as a partner. She pulled me through the whole time we were out there.”
Lebowitz and Meyerhoeffer lost a combined six games in four state tournament victories. They beat Brevard’s Kate Treacy-Lauren Fuller, Tarboro’s Nellie Wilson-Bailey Proctor and Northwood’s Catherine Shachtman-Katie Watkins on Friday.
Comadoll and Loeblein, who weren’t paired together until the seventh match of Salisbury’s season, won in straight sets against North Henderson’s Sydney Lyda-Julia Wallace and Greene Central’s Samantha Taylor-Abby Sugg to reach the semifinals.
Their 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory against Greene Central’s Elizabeth McLawhorn-Lauren Carraway set up another showdown with Lebowitz-Meyerhoeffer.
“They played amazing,” Loeblein said. “Hannah played out of her mind ó I think she missed shots twice the whole match ó and Kirstin played well too. It’s tough when all the parents come to congratulate you, then you cheer for your teammates. It’s bittersweet.”
Salisbury coach Chris Myers had at least one doubles team in the final for the third straight year, and Saturday’s scenario created some discomfort.
Susie Wear-Casey Collins faced Shelby’s Betsy Martin-Erin Mode on back-to-back occasions and prevailed in 2007, but the latest outcome caused four Salisbury players to shed some tears at the same time. Lebowitz dropped her racket and hugged Meyerhoeffer once the emotional match ended.
“The aftermath is difficult because it’d be nice if one of the teams beat somebody we didn’t care so much about,” Myers said. “The celebration was kind of muted a bit, but up until that point it was great to see all four girls out there.”