Falcon boys tennis program enters new era in 2018
All good things must come to an end, right? Well that’s how the saying goes, and it can be applied to the Salisbury boys’ tennis team.
Other than one doubles team from last season, Falcon head coach Rob Benson watched the rest of his regular starters depart due to graduation. That team, led by District 11 Class 2A singles champion John Yurconic and runner-up Mason Groff, went 11-2 in the Colonial League and fell to eventual champion Moravian Academy in the district semifinals.
Yurconic advanced to the quarterfinals of the PIAA singles tournament. A year before, he and Groff won the state doubles tournament in their junior seasons. But neither is walking through the doors this spring.
“I’ve got all brand-new kids pretty much,” Benson said. “Brad [Hnatow] and Bryce [Erdman] are playing No. 1 doubles. Patrick To is back, and he is playing No. 1 singles. But we haven’t had any real practices as you can well imagine. We were close in our loss to Palmerton, but they have some pretty good singles players.”
In Salisbury’s 3-2 win over Palisades in its second match this season, Hnatow and Erdman won at No. 1 doubles over the Pirates’ No. 1 tandem (6-1, 6-4). Those two juniors were the only players to see significant varsity court time a season ago, and Benson is relying on them to lead the way.
“This is kind of a rebuilding year, although if you told me I’d get one win out of my first two matches, I’d have been a happy camper,” Benson said. “We’ve got some potential. I have a couple of freshman and three sophomores that I haven’t seen before.”
Other than that, it’s a new look Falcon team this spring across the board. To, a junior, has been playing at No. 1 singles to open the season, while sophomore Aaron Kahn and freshman Christopher Marinos have been slated at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
Benson has plenty of youth on this team, but also a senior who has been with the program for four seasons now. Junior Dylan Weber has teamed up with senior Tyler Sechler-Stone at No. 2 doubles and the duo has shown chemistry early this spring season.
Sophomores Dylan Thompson and Tanner Ruth also figure to play key roles for Benson throughout the season. And he’s certain this lineup could change at various points of the season.
“The more I get to see these kids hit, the more I get a chance to figure out who can do what,” Benson said. “Dylan Weber impressed me already when I put him in.
“I get to do a lot more teaching. Obviously I didn’t have to teach Mason [Groff] and John [Yurconic]. It’s a different thing. If we were to make the playoffs, that would be fantastic. It’s a little different ball game right now.”
The Falcons have gone 1-2 early in the season thus far. Surrounding Salisbury’s win against Palisades were losses to Southern Lehigh on Monday (5-0) and Palmerton last Wednesday (4-1).