Tennis team seeks berth in D-11 tourney
With Salisbury tennis players having district team duals on their minds, head coach Rob Benson knows that collecting wins at this point in the season is crucial. It’s even more important with his team currently the final seed in the eight-team tournament scheduled for October 20.
The Falcons (6-8 overall, 6-6 in Colonial League) picked up another necessary victory toward achieving that goal with last Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Wilson (1-11 overall; 1-10 in Colonial League). While it’s unlikely Salisbury can catch No. 6 seed Notre Dame (Green Pond) or No. 7 Blue Mountain, both sitting at 8-3 in the power rankings, there’s still hope at solidifying a postseason berth. Tamaqua (4-7) and Palisades (4-8), seeded ninth and 10th respectively, are a couple of fractional points behind the Falcons.
“There’s a lot of good teams [in District 11 Class AA],” Benson said. “We’re competitive. We’ve lost three matches 3-2, and we won two matches 3-2 so far.
“We still have to play Bangor and Palisades, who we beat 3-2. We could lose those or we could win those. It was a nice win here today.”
At the decisive No. 3 singles position in a number of matches, sophomore Lilia Crouthamel has seen her fair share of pressure-filled situations throughout the season. After being in that same position last year and winning just one match, Crouthamel has improved tremendously in her second year on the court.
Crouthamel picked up her seventh win in the singles circuit this year with a victory in straight sets against Wilson’s Brahmleen Chaggar (6-4, 6-2).
“It usually comes down to the first doubles and me [third singles] for the match,” Crouthamel said. “The pressure doesn’t really get to me much.
“Overall I think I did OK. I just have to control my forehand and not torque as much.”
Crouthamel’s serve has gotten noticeably better in just a year of play, and Benson has seen her mental game improve tremendously, too.
“I improved a lot,” Crouthamel said. “Last year I only won one game, so I guess I’ve been playing a lot better. I think my serve has gotten a lot better, and my consistency has improved a lot.”
“Lil is starting to play a lot smarter,” Benson said. “She is actually using her head now, which is good rather than going for the big hit. She’s getting there.”
Benson gave Claudia Crouthamel the nod at No. 1 singles, eventually falling to last season’s district champion Tyra Ott, 6-1, 6-2.
Leandra Roelker improved to 6-6 on the season after defeating Wilson’s Jamie Sine (6-2, 6-0) at No. 2 singles. Both doubles teams also won in straight sets—Faith Moore and Tricia Pingarelli (6-1, 6-1) at No. 1 doubles; Erin Donmoyer and Abby Garrigan at No. 2 (6-3, 6-0).
Grabbing that final district seed won’t be an easy task.
After dropping back-to-back matches to Notre Dame-Green Pond and (5-0) and Moravian (4-1) last week, there’s an increased need to take care of business down the stretch.
For Benson, consistency across the Falcons’ lineup is key with four tough league matches to end the season.
“We just have to get a little bit better play from my second doubles and my No. 3 singles,” Benson said. “Not everybody has a good day at the same time. That just happens.”
Results from Monday’s match against Palisades were not available at time of press. Salisbury hosts Southern Lehigh on Friday.