Prep tennis: Salisbury 9, Bunker Hill 0
By Ryan Bisesi
SALISBURY — No. 1 singles player Joy Loeblein and No. 2 Katelyn Storey donned camouflage hats Monday during their prospective singles and doubles matches against Bunker Hill.
As if they and the rest of the Salisbury girls tennis team wouldn’t be noticed.
It wasn’t costume banter for Halloween, but a display of how a business-like Salisbury team can have a little fun even with the season coming to a crescendo. They won again in a 9-0 triumph against Bunker Hill in the third round of the state playoffs.
“My sophomore year it was a joke on the team and we all purchased camouflage hats,” Loeblein said. “We weren’t supposed to wear them in matches and then we bought Coach Myers one and we could start wearing them.”
The Hornets and their costume hijinks will travel to Shelby Wednesday for the regional round of the dual team playoffs for the second year in a row. The much-anticipated matchup against the Golden Lions will be for a trip to the state title match Saturday in Burlington. If the Hornets make it, they’ll be playing for their fourth straight state crown. Salisbury scrimmaged Shelby this year in a preseason match.
“I’ve played their No.1 before and lost,” Loeblein said. “It’s going to be competitive.”
Salisbury (18-1) beat Shelby 6-0 in the region final last season. Shelby (18-0) defeated West Davidson 5-1 Monday.
Senior Caroline Graham stepped in for Madeline Hoskins, who was with the golf team in Southern Pines playing for the state golf championship. Graham moved to 18-0 this season in a 6-2, 6-0 defeat of Le Xiong.
“She’s done a great job for us all year,” Myers said. “Our biggest strength is the depth, whether you’re talking about our No. 1 player or our No. 9 player.”
Loeblein was a 6-0, 6-1 winner against Crystal Thao and Storey topped May Taho 6-0, 6-1.
Loeblein/Erika Nelson, Storey/Graham and Sallie Kate Meyerhoeffer/Alexandra Drye all won doubles matches.
Loeblein and Nelson won the state doubles championship Saturday in Cary after placing second in 2010. Storey was the runner up in individuals for the second straight year.
“We were pretty excited,” Storey said. “We just knew we needed to go out there and take care of business.”
Loeblein/Nelson defeated Shelby’s Nancy Bridges/Emily Bridges during the state tournament but the Golden Lions’ Hillary Lutz topped Madeline Hoskins in singles play Saturday.
“They’re going to make you hit balls,” Graham said. “Against Shelby, that’s going to be our biggest challenge.”
Nelson was a 6-0, 6-0 winner against Lacey Ballard while Meyerhoeffer beat Alex Lombardo 6-1, 6-0. Drye beat Kristina Lo 6-1, 6-0.
Bunker Hill finished third in the Catawba Valley Conference as was a wild card entry into the postseason. The Bears beat Cuthbertson last week in the second round.
“They’re the best team I’ve seen,” said Bunker Hill coach Doug Watters of Salisbury. “Top to bottom, I haven’t seen anybody that could beat them.”