2A tennis final: Salisbury takes on Greene Central

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 6, 2009

By Bret Strelow
Salisbury’s girls tennis team will try to buck an odd trend today in Burlington.
The Hornets (22-0) have reached the 2A state final for the fifth consecutive year, and they’ll square off against Greene Central (22-6) at noon.
Salisbury won championships the two times it played morning matches in even-numbered years (2006, 2008) against Cardinal Gibbons. The odd-numbered years (2005, 2007) featured noon matches with Greene Central, and the Hornets lost both of them.
The senior-laden Rams, led by veteran coach Donald Clark, won 9-0 against Carrboro in the Eastern final Thursday.
“They’re always very prepared and very composed, and they have the best high school coach in the state,” Salisbury coach Chris Myers said.
“We’re going to be in for a real battle. That’s the thing we’ve seen the previous two times up there. They just keep their head and their wits about them throughout. That’s something we’re going to have to be prepared for and expect a long, drawn-out match.”
Greene Central’s top six consists of first-seeded junior Lauren Carraway and five seniors: Elizabeth McLawhorn, Samantha Taylor, Jessica Gray, Abby Sugg and Abbey Dail.
Carraway was a freshman when she contributed to a win at No. 1 doubles in a 5-4 victory against Salisbury, and the clincher came from Sugg-McLawhorn.
Clark said he believes the results from 2005 and 2007 will have no impact on today’s match.
“Salisbury’s 2009 team is incredibly deep like its teams of the last four years,” Clark said in an email. “We’ll have to play a great match to compete with them.”
Hannah Lebowitz, the lone senior in Salisbury’s lineup, is 29-1 this season and 103-5 in her career. Second-seeded sophomore Joy Loeblein, who provided the decisive fifth victory in the 2008 state final, has a 25-3 record this year.
Erika Nelson, Katelyn Storey and Anna Page are unbeaten in singles, and sixth-seeded Sierra Davis wrapped up the Hornets’ semifinal victory against Maiden on Thursday.
Salisbury has experience in pressure-packed doubles matches. Lebowitz faced Loeblein in last year’s 2A doubles final, and Nelson-Storey reached this year’s semifinals.
Nelson-Storey won 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) against Taylor-Sugg in the quarterfinals and fell 2-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-5 to Carraway-McLawhorn in the next round.
“If we all stay focused and play our game,” Loeblein said, “I feel really confident we’ll do well.”