Page wins regional
Salisbury coach Chris Myers jokingly says the Hornets rule in the fall in girls tennis, then “plug along” when the guys take to the courts in the spring, but Steven Page posted a breakthrough win for the SHS boys program on Saturday.
Page, the No. 4 seed, won the 2A Midwest Regional at Catawba’s Johnson Tennis Center.
“If you’d told me at the start of the season, Steven would be regional champion, I would have thought that might be a stretch,” Myers said. “But he’s hung in there, He’s worked and he’s played exceptional tennis here at the end of the year.”
Page won twice on Friday to reach a semifinal matchup against the No. 1 seed, Hibriten’s Huntley Nero.
Page jumped on top, controlling the first set and winning 6-2. Then he lost the second set on a tiebreaker.
“Steven just played extremely well that first set,” Myers said. “The second set, he’s got three match points in the tiebreaker, but he tightened up just a little bit.”
Page and Nero had been on the court two hours, 10 minutes at that point, and it was hot. Nero collapsed from fatigue and heat during the third set.
“You could the kid was laboring, and then he collapsed and was having full body cramps,” Myers said. “I haven’t seen anything like that. After 11 minutes of medical treatment ó and you have to give that kid a lot of credit ó he still wanted to give it a go, and he tried. But he couldn’t run down anything and it actually got a little uncomfortable to watch.”
Page led 4-2 when he was declared the winner by injury default. Nero was taken to the hospital. There was no immediate word on his condition.
Ledford’s second-seeded Landon Rogers, a CCC rival of Page who dropped only one game in the semis, had to sit through much of Page’s marathon match with Nero.
Page beat Rogers twice during the regular season, but Rogers (20-4) had handled Page in their recent meeting in the conference tournament.
This time Page got the jump and won 7-5, 6-1.
“Steven got up in that first set and kept the momentum,” Myers said. “Great job.”
Myers and former SHS tennis coach/historian Bill Lee put their heads together and determined Page is the first Hornet male to win a regional since the doubles team of Bobby Cristman and Richard Reinholz prevailed in 1994. The last Hornet to win in singles was Eric Saunders, who dominated from 1991-93.
Salisbury’s standout Goodmans, Joe and Daniel, reached regional finals, but lost the championship match.
Myers believes the last CCC male to win a regional title was Lexington’s Matt Simeon in 2002.
Page, Rogers, West Stanly’s Andrew Smith (17-2) and Nero (16-4) qualified for the 2A state tournament, which will be held in Cary Friday morning. As regional champ, Page will be a No. 1 seed. He’ll take on a No. 4 seed from one of the other regions in the opening round.
It will be a busy week for Page, who also will lead the Hornets against Lexington in a second-round match in the state dual team tournament. on Wednesday.
“It’s a tough league and we’ve been back and forth with Ledford and Lexington, team-wise and as far as our top singles guys,” Myers said. “It speaks well for our league that two of our guys were squaring off out there for a regional championship.”