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Benson has veteran team for final season

Head coach Rob Benson and the Salisbury boys tennis team unfortunately missed out on its spring season a few months back due to the Covid-19 pandemic onset. He felt for the players, especially the five senior starters who were expected to lead a successful campaign.

About five months later, however, Benson is set to lead a team back onto the courts this fall with the Lady Falcons’ tennis squad after producing a 5-5 record in the Colonial League in 2019. And the good news is that he returns all but two starters from last year’s team.

Seniors Bryn Kubinsky (8-6 last season) and Paige Gibbons (12-2) return at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively, after posting successful junior campaigns. The two also paired up at the District 11 Class 2A Doubles Tournament and made a deep run.

Junior Mackenzie Hankee (8-6) is back at No. 3 singles, her third year at the position, to round out a formidable trio.

“Bryn and Paige are my two top seniors, and when they were freshmen they were 14-4 as a doubles team,” Benson said. “And Mackenzie is a junior this year, and she’s been playing singles for me for two years already. It’s a nice thing because I can go to practice and they know what I want them to do.”

The lone graduate from last year’s team was Bethany Hnatow. She paired up with Krista Bonge at No. 1 doubles to have a successful season.

Marcie Silberman is back as well at No. 2 doubles, pairing up with varsity newcomer Anna Bitar to round out the doubles circuit. And so far this season, Benson has been impressed with his doubles tandems.

“We have played two matches, and I am impressed with how well our doubles teams have done thus far,” Benson said.

“My first doubles team-I’ve got Krista Bonge and Maisie Oliver-they are both almost six feet tall. They can intimidate people at the net.”

Benson’s goals for the Lady Falcons are clear. He is shooting for a 9-2 record in the Colonial League and a spot in the District 11 Class 2A duals.

Through two games, Benson and the Lady Falcons are on the right track. Salisbury cruised to a 5-0 win against Bangor in its season opener on the final day of August. Two days later, Salisbury defeated Saucon Valley with a 4-1 score. Both doubles teams won their matchups against the Panthers, as did Gibbons and Hankee in close singles matches.

“I want this team to do certain things,” Benson said. “We have a mantra this year: attack, attack, attack. I’m having the doubles teams hit right at their opponents at the net.”

Salisbury’s week ahead doesn’t get any easier, though. Tuesday they had a match against Moravian Academy, followed by Wednesday’s meeting against Southern Lehigh and then Thursday’s contest against Notre Dame (Green Pond).

But the good news is that spectators are expected to be permitted at tennis matches for the first time this fall after a recent announcement from the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA). That will begin on Wednesday, according to Benson.

Wednesday’s match against the Spartans is scheduled for 4 p.m.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SHCOLZ Bryn Kubinsky returns as the No. 1 singles player on the Salisbury girls tennis team in 2020.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Paige Gibbons will play at the No. 2 singles position for Salisbury this fall.