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Prep tennis: Ledford 5, Salisbury 4

By Bret Strelow
bstrelow@salisburypost.com
Ledford players rushed the court to celebrate a 5-4 victory against Salisbury, and interested observers from Lexington’s tennis team also had reason to rejoice.
The Hornets, despite the setback, still have a say in how the CCC race plays out.
Wednesday’s outcome allowed Lexington to essentially clinch at least a share of the conference title. Salisbury (7-2, 5-2) split its season series with Ledford, which split with the first-place Yellow Jackets.
Lexington was a 5-4 winner over Salisbury in the first meeting, and the teams will square off again Tuesday. A victory by the Hornets would practically guarantee a three-way tie for the championship.
“We definitely have some parity with the top three teams,” Salisbury coach Chris Myers said. “Hopefully we’ll go to Lexington next week and really complicate things.
“Our focus today was to come win this one and then have a one-match playoff with Lexington, but this definitely does complicate things. Hopefully we’ll take some things from today and learn from it.”
Singles wins from Steven Page, Austin Flynn and Alan Lebowitz ó the top three players in Salisbury’s lineup ó helped create a 3-3 tie with Ledford (11-2, 8-2) heading into doubles.
Page-Alex Weant won 6-2, 6-1 against the second-seeded pairing of Thomas Edwards-Christian Allen, and the Panthers pulled even when Landon Rogers-Scott Buchanan wrapped up a 6-2, 6-3 victory against Flynn-Lebowitz.
The match between third-seeded doubles teams was halfway complete at that point, and Ledford’s Wes Huss-Jay Buchanan pulled out a 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (11-9) decision against Seth Gentry-Wes McNeely.
Gentry-McNeely led 4-1 in the opening set and trailed 6-5 before forcing the first tiebreaker, which ended with Huss-Buchanan winning the final two points.
Gentry-McNeely served for the second set with leads of 5-4 and 6-5. Huss-Buchanan established a 5-2 lead in the next tiebreaker and finally prevailed on the fifth match point.
Gentry-McNeely won two straight points to erase a 6-4 deficit, and the Salisbury tandem had one set point at 8-7.
“It was a good match and an exciting match,” Myers said. “All four kids were competing very well and playing hard. It just came down to a point here and a point there.”
Salisbury opened singles play with a 6-1, 6-4 victory from Flynn, who took the final three games from Scott Buchanan.
Ledford followed with straight-set wins from Edwards and Huss. Allen then collected a 7-5, 4-6, (10-3) victory against Weant at No. 6.
Lebowitz started slowly but wound up with a 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), (10-1) win against Josh Edwards, who led 5-4 and 6-5 in the second set. Page capped singles with a 7-6 (7-3), 1-6, (10-3) victory over Rogers, who is now 11-2 with both losses coming against Salisbury’s top seed.
Page led 5-3 in the first-set tiebreaker as he sprinted off the edge of his court and brushed against the fence while lunging for a return. The extra effort paid off when Rogers committed an error to give Page his first set point.
Rogers dominated the second set, and Page jumped ahead 7-2 in the supertiebreaker.
“Coach told me just to calm down, and that was the key,” Page said. “Calming down, forgetting the second set and playing like I did the first set.”

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