Prpe Tennis: Salisbury goes against Gibbons in rematch of 2006 final

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2008

By Bret Strelow
As two of his doubles teams squared off for the 2A title at N.C. State’s indoor tennis facility last weekend, Salisbury coach Chris Myers couldn’t help but take notice of the singles final unfolding directly in front of him.
Cardinal Gibbons freshman Lauren Brooker claimed a straight-set win against West Henderson’s Amie Cloer only a few feet away from the spectators’ row of bleachers. Hannah Lebowitz, Kirstin Meyerhoeffer, Shea Comadoll and Joy Loeblein toiled away on the fourth and final court.
Myers’ effort to analyze Brooker’s play while offering non-partisan support to Salisbury wasn’t a wasted one. The Hornets (22-1) will face Cardinal Gibbons (19-4) for the state dual-team title today at 9 a.m. in Burlington.
“I think I watched that state singles final more than I watched our girls playing,” Myers said with a laugh.
“I know how our girls play, and I thought there was a good chance we might see Gibbons down the line. If I didn’t get a good scouting report, Hannah would kill me. I figured it’d be best to stay out of her doghouse.”
Lebowitz, a 2A doubles champion one year after she earned all-state status an an individual, will meet the reigning singles champ in the dual-team final for the second straight season.
Lebowitz won at No. 3 singles as a freshman in 2006, when Gibbons fell 5-1 to Salisbury in the 2A title match. Puja Patel helped lead Greene Central to a 5-4 victory against the Hornets in the 2007 final.
A victory by Lebowitz-Meyerhoeffer at No. 2 doubles gave Salisbury a 4-3 lead over the Rams, but they pulled out the last two matches.
“The loss has definitely driven me a lot this season to keep everyone going and try to keep myself going because I know how it feels to get so close at the end and not get it done,” Lebowitz said. “This year I think we’re going to try to go in there and play the best we can and hope the outcome was how it was my freshman year.”
Meyerhoeffer, one of three seniors in Salisbury’s lineup, went 2-0 in last year’s final. Comadoll and Brooke Johnson are also back as part of a top six that now includes Loeblein and fellow freshman Erika Nelson at the bottom of the order.
Cardinal Gibbons senior Casey Perriccio, the team’s No. 2 player, joined Brooker at the state singles tournament and reached the quarterfinals. Ally Tucker, Meredith Masteller, Rachael Lynch-Daniels and Cori Krause rounded out the top six during a 6-3 win against Edenton Holmes in the Eastern final.
Salisbury has won 29 of 30 matches within the dual-team playoff format as it pursues its fifth state championship.
“Our girls have stood up to every challenge all year and played great,” Myers said. “I expect that they’ll go out and compete at a high level, and may the best team win.”