Salisbury tennis team settles for D-11 silver
If it was not for Moravian Acsdemy, the Salisbury boys tennis team could very well be back-to-back league and district champions.
But during last week's District 11 Class AA tournament, Salisbury watched as its season came to an end. And there was a sense of déjà vu for the Falcons once again when they ran into the Lions in the championship game.
In a similar outing from a year ago, top-seeded Moravian defeated No. 3 Salisbury, 3-0, last Saturday in the title game at Winning Touch Tennis. It was another thorn in the Falcons' side after watching the Lions win both Colonial League and district title matches in the past two years.
"We were a little bit closer with them [than their previous three meetings], but their doubles were playing very well," head coach Rob Benson said. "Mason [Groff] lost the first set 7-5, and John [Yurconic] lost 6-3, so they were close."
After his team defeated No. 6 seed Pen Argyl (4-1) in the quarterfinals and No. 2 seed Saucon Valley (3-2) in the semifinals, Benson believed Salisbury had the firepower to dethrone the defending champs if all cylinders were clicking.
Instead, Moravian did what it does best in championship matches. Saturday's victory was the Lions' seventh straight district crown.
"They were playing real well," Benson said. "They got better. It's a long season, and I think the kids were a little tired. You keep getting beaten down by Moravian, and after awhile it takes its toll on you."
While the team's season has come to a close, there is plenty to take note of in Benson's third year coaching the Falcons.
Benson has been at the forefront in turning around a team that was 6-8 in the Colonial League in 2012. Salisbury won 10 conference matches in each of the past two campaigns.
"For us to be the runners-up in District 11 two years in a row for a small school like we are, that's huge," Benson said. "When's the last time you saw Salisbury do that?"
The future is only looking brighter for the Falcons, who return both of their top singles players in Yurconic and Groff. Yurconic finished as the runner up in the district singles tournament, and the duo combined to win district doubles.
Yurconic and Groff begin their run in the state doubles tournament on May 22.
"We'll practice just about every day," Benson said. "I'm cautiously optimistic. I think they have as good of a chance as anybody. We'll see how the draw goes and who they are playing."
There will be an area to address next year, however, as both doubles teams graduate. Both teams have been with Benson for his entire ride with the boys team, and Brendan Reichenbach and Jack Bonge have won more than 40 doubles matches in their careers together. Eric Young and Aaron King suited up at No. 2 doubles for Benson for much of the last two seasons.
"They [Reichenbach and Bonge] had three or four matches they won in three sets that gave us the win," Benson said. "You have to give the kids credit. They bought into the program and did what they had to do. Obviously we're not as strong as Parkland or Moravian, but we don't have the same amount of kids coming out."