Salisbury Press

Saturday, June 24, 2017
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZSalisbury’s Daniel Bonge returns a shot during a doubles match against Moravian Academy. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZSalisbury’s Daniel Bonge returns a shot during a doubles match against Moravian Academy.

Tennis team eyes rematch with Lions

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by TODD KRESS tkress@tnonline.com in Sports

The Salisbury boys’ tennis team finished last season one win under .500 in the Colonial League and captured six wins in conference.

The Falcons have already surpassed that win total this season and they’re not even midway through April.

Since Salisbury (9-1 in Colonial League; 10-3 overall) dropped its first league match to reigning champion Moravian Academy last week, the team has started a new winning streak. The Falcons responded with convincing wins over Hamburg (3-2) the following day and Notre Dame (Green Pond) (4-1) to open this week.

“The biggest factor this season for us has been depth,” senior No. 2 singles player Mason Groff said. “We have some new players and some from last year, and it is really great to have these players on the team. Most of them never played tennis. They’re just great athletes, and having them get used to the sport and thrive has been tough. But where they are at now is amazing, and everyone on the team is always improving.”

Even the Moravian Academy setback, although a loss, was bit reassuring for Salisbury. Both Groff and No. 1 singles player John Yurconic cruised to victories. Groff took down Oliver Scott in straight sets (6-3, 6-2), while Yurconic defeated Abbi Sekar 6-1, 6-1.

“The Moravian match was definitely a tough loss for us, knowing that we came so close,” Groff said. “This is still a relatively new team that we have, so going up against experienced tennis players at Moravian is always a challenge. John and I were able to get two wins against two great players at Moravian. It was just one final win that we lacked. Hopefully we will get them next time.”

Both Yurconic and Groff expect to win most of their singles matches in their final season. And if the Falcons can get one more win from either No. 3 singles Ethan Heydt or one of its doubles tandems next time they face the Lions (April 18 in Bethlehem Township), Salisbury could be looking at its first win over Moravian Academy in quite some time.

“Our third singles player, Ethan Heydt, had a great match the first time we played, where he held leads and had great plays,” Groff said. “Unfortunately he couldn’t win that time, which is OK, but hopefully next time he could come out on top, which is very possible I believe. Our first doubles team had some success in their match against a very good team. They can definitely get a win if they play their best. Our second doubles can win, too. I believe anyone can win on any given day.”

After Heydt came up short in the first set, 6-1, to Moravian’s Daniel Elmi, Heydt managed to get the second set to 6-4. The possibility is there for the Lion’s run of five straight league titles could potentially come to an end.

Other than the Moravian loss, the Colonial League slate has seemingly been easy-going for the blue and white. Salisbury has four 5-0 victories and three via 4-1 scores. It may have looked easy to get to where the Falcons have, but it’s been all about hard work during the offseason and early going of 2017.

Salisbury’s only other losses this season have been to Eastern Pennsylvania Conference opponents Parkland and Central Catholic, both via 3-2 final scores.

“It’s not that it has been smooth sailing; everyone on the team has just been working ridiculously hard to be where we are,” Groff said. “Every match counts, so the entire team knows that we need to focus and play our best every time. Once that mindset is in place, that’s when we get those great results, and it’s great to see the hard work put in pay off.”

The Falcons have three league matches left on deck and can cement themselves in the team duals with a strong upcoming week. Results from Tuesday’s match against Peny Argyl were not available at time of press, but the Falcons will close out with Bangor (Thursday), Saucon Valley (Monday) and Moravian Academy (Tuesday).

“As a team we need to stay focused and keep in mind what we have to do to hold our spot in the Colonial League,” Groff said. “These next three matches need to be wins, and I believe as a team we have the talent to do it.”