Prep tennis: Salisbury opens with win
By Ryan Bisesi
SALISBURY — Change isn’t something you see a lot of in Salisbury’s girls tennis program.
With four straight state 2A titles and no conference losses since 2002, it’s not often you see the Hornets in transition, even though they were still in flux Monday afternoon.
The Hornets are still in the process of figuring out who’s playing where in their rotation. Depth, a staple of their dynasty, will likely be the determining factor in their season, which started with a 9-0 win against South Rowan in the season-opener.
“That’s always been a strong point over the years,” Salisbury coach Chris Myers said. “We have a lot of freshman with some talent and we’re feeling really good about our depth on the team.”
The rotation isn’t totally decided with challenge matches still ongoing. However, a surplus of talent means the Hornets will be able to rely on just about anyone that goes up.
Erika Nelson and Joy Loeblein are gone, but four of the top six from last year were retained and some new faces bolster the roster. After playing at Salisbury her freshman year, junior Anna Flynn moved back from Texas and Grace Steinman and Kayla Honeycutt lead a sound group of freshman.
“Competition makes the kids better,” Myers said. “A lot of times for our girls, the most intense competition they have is out here at practice. It makes them better and ultimately makes the team better.”
The Hornets aren’t shying away from worthy opponents. Salisbury faces Charlotte Catholic, the only team that defeated them last year, twice. Lake Norman, Mooresville and Weddington are also on the schedule. They defeated defending 1A champs Mt. Airy in an exhibition last week and are hopeful to face the Bears again during the season.
Katelyn Storey, Sallie Kate Meyerhoeffer and Caroline Graham are returning seniors. Storey played at No. 1 and topped SR’s Erin Freeze 6-0, 6-0. Junior Alexandra Drye was a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Bethany Karriker at No. 2.
“It’s an honor,” said Storey of tentatively playing at No. 1. “I was 4 freshman year, 3 sophomore year and 2 junior year.”
Junior Madeline Hoskins will again juggle tennis and golf duties after winning two state crowns in a week’s span last year. No. 5 Hoskins defeated Madison Brewer 6-0, 6-0. Flynn topped Sydney Cox 6-0, 6-0 and Meyerhoeffer won 6-0, 6-0 against Aspen Mushala. Graham was a 6-0, 6-1 winner over Sara Bradley.
“I feel like we have a strong team and we bond well,” Meyerhoeffer said. “I love the freshmen. They’re great.”
In doubles, Meyerhoeffer/Steinman defeated Mariah Mason/Sidnie Sterns 8-0 and Honeycutt/Cathryn Rusher beat Tera Lawver/Madison Brewer 8-0. Junior Kathleen Mowery and freshman Emily Capito were 8-2 winners against Sara Bradley and Taylor James.
“We graduated two state champion seniors and they’re hard to replace,” Myers said. “We’re getting Anna back and we’ve got Caroline Graham moving into the top six. I feel good about all of our girls that we have out here.”