Prep Tennis: Salisbury sending six to state tournament
By Ryan Bisesi
SALISBURY — Despite Tuesday’s season-ending loss to Newton-Conover in the second round of the dual team playoffs, the opportunities for Salisbury’s tennis team to walk away with hardware this season are still in tact.
In fact, much of the team will be making the trip to Cary among their kind, that being household names.
But the Hornets have six of them.
“They’re all names that you’ve heard of, watch this guy, watch that guy,” said Salisbury coach Chris Stroupe of the 2A Individual state tournament at Cary Tennis Center this weekend. “They’re four from the best of each region, so you know off the bat, it’s going to be tougher than usual.”
After again winning the Central Carolina Conference and composing an 18-2 record, the Hornets are looking for vindication today and, they hope, tomorrow. Salisbury had six players qualify for the state final after last Saturday’s Midwest Regional at Catawba. Two singles players and a pair of doubles teams from Salisbury will begin play at 9 a.m. both today and Saturday. If rain is in the forecast, Stroupe says the matches will be moved to N.C. State or Duke.
“If we can make it to Saturday, that’s our main goal,” said Seth Gentry, who will be paired with Alex Weant in doubles. “There’s going to be some really good doubles teams there, but we’re going to do our best and see where that gets us.”
The first round consists of eight singles and eight doubles matches,
Gentry and Weant, this year’s regional champs, fell in the first round to Greene Central’s Eric Simmons and Colby Chase in last year’s tournament.Today, Weant/Gentry face Garrett Peedin and Montana Wiggs of North Johnston in Round 1. The duo went 4-0 in the regional, defeating Jesse Massucco/Evan Day 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the final.
“There’s tough matches,” Stroupe said. “They’re matches that, if we play well, we can win.”
Junior Alan Lebowitz and senior Steven Page will partake in singles play. Page will face Pittsboro Northwood’s Christian Manhard and Lebowitz takes on Roanoke Rapids’ James Tart, although that’s news to him. Thursday afternoon, Lebowitz said he had no idea who he was facing.
“You don’t really gain anything from looking up a ranking,” Lebowitz said. “It’s just a number to me. A ranking may not represent what they actually play like.”
Lebowitz made it to the doubles quarterfinals last year with partner Austin Flynn. Page also won his first round pairing in 2010.
Lewis Young, a Roanoke College signee, and Brock Overcash are paired with Durham School of the Arts’ Emerson Ellis and Drew Guerra.
Page defeated Hang Lak Choi 6-3, 6-2 as one of the highlights of Salisbury’s loss at the hands of the Red Devils Tuesday. Newton ended Salisbury’s season for the second straight year after beating them in the state semifinals last year.
“From there, we just kind of set our peace, and said lets just focus on this one,” Stroupe said. “They’re extremely good, but I felt like, different time, different place, we had them.”
For now, the Hornets look forward, with one more chance for greatness in 2011.
“We’re ready for it,” Stroupe said. “We’re excited about the challenge.”