SALISBURY — To win their sixth straight state 2A championship, the Salisbury girls tennis team will have to travel practically all over the state.
After Tuesday’s 9-0 win against Forest Hills in the opening round of the playoffs, the Hornets will have six players in the individual regionals in Lexington on Thursday and Friday. Their second-round playoff date is next week at Brevard, about a three-hour trek west. It’s the same trip Salisbury made last year in the west region final before beating Greene Central in the championship.
“It’s fun with the girls,” Salisbury No. 1 singles player Alexandra Drye said. “It’s a long ride, but we make it fun.”
The Hornets (14-3), especially senior Madeline Hoskins, are okay with life on the road. New NCHSAA rules dictate that when teams who are equal seeds meet, the one with the higher winning percentage hosts. That favors Brevard (16-2).
“I’m just going to enjoy the next few weeks as much as I can,” said Hoskins, who juggles tennis and golf every fall and has five state championships in the last three years to prove it. “I’ve done it for the past three years so I’m a little seasoned at it. Around this time of year, I start losing sleep.”
Salisbury coach Scott Maddox is hoping the Brevard match can be moved to Monday so Hoskins can participate in the golf regional Tuesday at Country Club of Salisbury. The state championship golf match will be at Longleaf Golf and Country Club in Southern Pines on Oct. 28-29. Dual team state finals are in Burlington the following Saturday, Nov. 2.
The Hornets have three doubles teams and a two singles players in the regional. where the top four finishers head to the state individual finals in Cary.
Tuesday, the Hornets stayed home and controlled another first-round foe. Salisbury lost just one game in singles play and had all three doubles teams win 10-1 in an hour and 20 minutes.
“We’re playing every match our hardest and playing every point like it’s match point,” Hoskins said. “We know that at any point we could be done.”
Salisbury, winners of the last five state titles, could face Shelby in the third round, which would be at SHS. Lake Norman Charter resides at the top of the other half of the bracket and is a favorite to reach the west final.
Drye beat FH’s Cindy Sierra, who was 10-1 coming into Tuesday, 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles.
“We have to be very focused and take every match one at a time,” Drye said. “We always prepare the same way.”
Kayla Honeycutt, Anna Flynn, Hoskins, Kathryn Rusher and Grace Steinman all enjoyed 6-0, 6-0 singles wins. Rusher and Steinman will play in the regional in singles play. Drye/Hoskins, Honeycutt/Flynn and Rusher/Steinman are the doubles qualifiers.
“We have a pretty deep team and really strong players,” Drye said. “If we stay focused we can go as far as we want.”
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