Salisbury Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZMackenzie Hankee (right) has been described by her head coach as “Rambo” because of her toughness on the court. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZMackenzie Hankee (right) has been described by her head coach as “Rambo” because of her toughness on the court.

Tennis avenges loss to SV

Friday, September 27, 2019 by TODD KRESS tkress@tnonline.com in Sports

Back on September 7, the Salisbury girls’ tennis team lost a close 3-2 decision against Saucon Valley. Falcon head coach Rob Benson believed at the time that his team was more than capable of defeating the Panthers.

Nearly two weeks later, the Falcons were able to get some revenge. Salisbury (8-6 overall; 5-5 in Colonial League) was on the other end of a 3-2 decision this time around when it defeated Saucon Valley on Friday evening on its home courts.

The difference this time was No. 3 singles player Mackenzee Hankee, who defeated Saucon Valley’s Charlotte Humphreys (6-4, 3-6, 6-3). Hankee came up short against that opponent in the first meeting in early September.

“We have called her our bulldog all year,” Benson said. “But after watching what she did against Saucon Valley, she has become Rambo. She is just tough as nails. Rambo would bow down to her in a tough match like that. She wasn’t feeling well, and she told me that at the beginning of the match.”

One of the biggest differences between the two weeks was the Lady Falcons’ ability to play more of a defensive style of play, which Benson calls their slice shots. And Hankee was able to do just that against Humphreys.

“All of the girls I’ve worked with them on developing a slice shot,” Benson said. “Now they have a Plan B to put into affect, rather than just one game plan. It’s been a season-long thing and it’s paid dividends, and it will pay dividends for next season, too.”

Paige Gibbons once again won at No. 2 singles, defeating Serena ElBanna in straight sets (6-2, 6-2). After a tough opening set, the No. 1 doubles tandem of Bethany Hnatow and Krista Bonge also won in straight sets over Abby Altemose and Emma Maykot (7-5, 6-0) to seal the victory.

The other two matches were close as well, and surely could have gone the Lady Falcons’ way. At No. 1 singles against the Panthers’ Julia Hernandez, Bryn Kubinsky lost the first set tiebreaker 7-6 (7) before coming up short in the second set, 6-1. Maise Oliver and Marcie Silberman kept their No. 2 doubles match close, but ultimately came up on the short end of a 6-4, 6-3 finish.

“Our girls know how to fight, and they don’t quit,” Benson said. “They don’t ever quit. And some of the other coaches have told me that. We could surprise some people.”

That match against Saucon Valley ended the regular season, but the Lady Falcons are far from finished with their 2019 fall season. Up next is the Colonial League Tournament on Thursday in which a number of Lady Falcons have the possibility to advance far into competition.

“I have a pretty good idea where we are going to be with the Colonial League tournament seeding,” Benson said. “Southern Lehigh and Moravian Academy are the two teams to watch, but I wouldn’t put anything past Paige. Our doubles teams can do very well. It’s only an eight-game pro set, so anybody can do anything.”