The Maiden Blue Devils had a tall and tough task Tuesday facing talented Salisbury. They came up short.
“I feel like we were just beaten by a better team,” Maiden coach Jon Huffman said. “Our kids played well, and I am proud of the effort they showed out there, but Salisbury is just very, very good. Our kids knew that coming in.”
The Hornets swept the Blue Devils in singles and doubles Tuesday at Maiden to win 9-0 in the second round of the 2-A state tennis dual-team tennis tournament. Tuesday’s match was a rematch of the 2009 2-A West region final when the Hornets defeated the Blue Devils 5-1 in November 2009 at Salisbury. Huffman joked last year’s match was much more fun being in the state semifinals.
“We knew when we came down here we would have to hit a lot of balls and run a lot,” Salisbury coach Chris Myers said. “Coach Huffman’s teams are always very, very competitive, and that was certainly evident out here. Every time you play Maiden, you know you are in for a tough one.”
The loss, however, was seen as a learning opportunity for players returning to the Blue Devils’ team in 2011.
“One thing I stressed to our younger kids is that I wanted them to watch Salisbury play,” Huffman said. “Hopefully our program can get to that level because that is a good model to push for.”
Salisbury is the two-time defending state champion, ranked No. 1 in the state coaches poll, and has won three state championships in the past five years. The Hornets in 2010 also have six players — two singles and two doubles teams — qualify for the 2-A state meet this weekend in Cary.
The Hornets won every match Tuesday in straight sets, but Blue Devils Kaylyn Key and Cinderella Yang pushed their opponents in the top-two singles matches. Yang lost the first set 6-1 to Erika Nelson, but she rallied to a 4-4 tie in the second set. She lost the last two games for a 6-1, 6-4 loss.
“The second set, I really tried my best,” Yang said. “I felt like I really wanted it and wanted to win it. The team needed it, and I know the team was counting on me. All I could do was play my best. It was fun.”
Yang was the only Maiden player to win a singles match in the 2009 team match
In the top singles match, Salisbury’s Joy Loeblein won 6-3, 6-2 against Key. Key and Yang were the only Maiden players to win more than two games in their two-set matches.
“Both of those kids as seniors had great years,” Huffman said. “I’m especially proud of those two kids, but I’m proud of all the other girls too.”
Maiden won two games in two of the remaining four matches and only one in the other two.