Prep tennis: Salisbury going for fourth straight state title

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 9, 2011

By Ronnie Gallagher
SALISBURY — The Salisbury girls tennis team has won three straight 2A state championships.
Now what?
“Hopefully, a fourth one,” smiled coach Chris Myers.
It was easy to believe Myers when looking at the 10-player group assembled near the coach as he talked about this season during Saturday’s photo day. Five of the top six Hornets who breezed past Tarboro 6-0 in the 2010 state final are back.
There is No. 1 player Joy Loeblein. No. 2 Erika Nelson. No. 3 Katelyn Storey. No. 4 Madeline Hoskins.
Add Sallie Kate Meyerhoeffer and that’s a scary group that went 23-2 last season.
Other teams might feel the burden of repeating but Salisbury’s players apparently have their heads on straight. They don’t seem to feel pressure at all.
“Whether it’s practice or matches, they just go out there and do their thing,” Myers said. “They just don’t play between July and November. Those girls are serious about the sport throughout the year. The competition in practice is great.”
That’s why he doesn’t really know who will be at what position yet.
“Everybody has the opportunity to be No. 1,” Myers said. “And the competition between No. 5 and No. 6 is real tight. I feel confident putting any of the 10 out there on any given day.”
Amazingly, Salisbury has made the state championship match six straight years with four titles. But the last three, the Hornets have been practically unstoppable.
First, Cardinal-Gibbons went down. Then, Greene Central and Tarboro.
Like West Rowan in football or the Salisbury girls in basketball — two other teams who have three straight state titles — Myers doesn’t pad his schedule with cupcakes. On Thursday, the Hornets go to Shelby for a scrimmage. Shelby is always a title contender.
Once the season officially begins, the Hornets will travel to the mountains to take on Brevard, another 2A title contender, and Asheville.
“It’s nice to take a look at Asheville again because they defeated us last year,” Myers said. “It will be sort of a rematch for bragging rights.”
The other loss came to 4A Raleigh Broughton.
Myers knows his toughest battles will be from the west.
“The competition is going to be a little greater on this side of the state,” Myers said.
Salisbury, however, has tradition on its side.
“Certainly, the name says something,” Myers said. “And to a degree, there’s some intimidation when other teams see us out there.”
So don’t be surprised if the Hornets are playing on the final day of the season.
“We have one goal in mind,” Myers said.
A fourth straight title.
Stay tuned.