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Prep Tennis: Salisbury climbs Mt. Airy to victory

By Ryan Bisesi
rbisesi@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Church bells rang across the street from Salisbury’s much-anticipated showdown with unbeaten Mount Airy Monday afternoon at the top of the hour in a pristine fall-like setting.
The Hornet girls tennis program has been almost parallel with the bells’ consistency with three straight state titles and that unyielding success that hasn’t wavered against worthy teams.
The pound of racket to ball was just as loud as Salisbury’s steady ladies got another big win against a highly-ranked opponent with a 7-2 victory against previously unbeaten Mount Airy.
The 1-A Bears, who watched Salisbury win a state title in Burlington last year, got another look at Chris Meyers’ gang, this time on its home court.
It was just as impressive.
“We knew Salisbury coming in was a super team,” Mount Airy coach Scott Kniskern said. “I knew it was going to be a challenge for us.”
The Hornets won four singles matches and swept doubles play to improve to 14-1. Mount Airy dropped to 20-1.
Sophomore and No. 6 singles player Alexandra Drye pulled through in the most singles match of the day against Bree Hughes. Drye lost the first set 6-1 before taking the next set 6-4 and winning the tiebreaker 10-6. The match lasted over an hour and a half and kept the match from being tied going into doubles.
“I just try to keep my head straight and keep every ball in play,” Drye said. “I changed my game around in the second set.”
“Mentally, that’s just a huge victory,” Myers said. “She made some changes through the second set that it tough for the other girl to overcome.”
Daylight began to fade during Drye’s win and forced the lights to come on and after that, Salisbury was lights-out. Joy Loblein/Erika Nelson, Katelyn Storey/Madeline Hoskins and Sallie Kate Meyerhoeffer/Drye claimed doubles matches for the Hornets. Except for a slip-up against Charlotte Catholic, doubles play has been a strength for Salisbury.
Mount Airy No. 1 Jordan Jackson, now 20-0 for the year, defeated Loeblein in singles 6-2, 6-2.
Salisbury, no stranger to tough opponents, fell to Charlotte Catholic, but have defeated tennis tyrants Asheville and Brevard.
Salisbury took No. 2-4 singles. Storey defeated Davi Barbour 6-0, 6-2 at No. 2 while No. 3 Nelson was a 6-1, 6-4 victor against Merry Kessler. Hoskins defeated Elizabeth Dinkins 6-2, 6-2.
The Bears’ Jade Hughes topped Meyerhoeffer 6-0, 6-0 to remain unbeaten.
In doubles, Loeblein/Nelson were 10-4 winners against Jackson/Kessler. Storey/Hoskins topped Dinkins/Hughes 10-6 and Meyerhoeffer/Drye defeated Barbour/Haley Thomas 10-6.
It was just another big win for the Hornets against one of last year’s state finalists. Salisbury hopes its tradition keeps on next week as the CCC Tournament starts in Lexington.
“We worked so hard to schedule this because we figured it’d be great competition for both teams,” Myers said.

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