• 46°

Prep Girls Tennis: Salisbury’s Honeycutt repeats as top player

SALISBURY — Tennis began for Salisbury High senior Kayla Honeycutt with a group lesson when she was 5 years old.
“I was shorter than the net,” Honeycutt said.
After growing up to be tall, steady and smart, Honeycutt has done well with the sport she chose early in life. She’s the Rowan County Player of the Year for the second time in a row and she’s a four-time all-county player.
Joining Honeycutt for that introductory tennis lesson from instructor Bobby Cristmas were Kathryn Rusher and Grace Steinman, girls who would thrive alongside Honeycutt as classmates and teammates.
By age 11 they were competing in tournaments. It’s been quite a ride.
“We wanted to see how far we could go with tennis, and we went a pretty long way,” Honeycutt said.
Honeycutt was a big part of state-championship teams as a freshman and sophomore. She was 2A individual state champion as a junior. As a senior, she led the Hornets to the Western Regional final and she and Rusher finished as state runner-up in doubles in the individual tournament.
“We were a strong doubles team because Kayla has a great serve, and I was good at poaching,” Rusher said.
When Rusher and Honeycutt reached the 2A doubles final, it marked the 10th straight year that the SHS program has been represented in the singles or doubles championship match. Some years the Hornets have been involved in both title matches.
Six Hornets are part of this year’s 13-girl all-county team. All six had great years. Salisbury won its 13th straight Central Carolina Conference championship, with seniors Honeycutt, Rusher, Steinman and Emily Capito joined in the starting lineup by sophomores Julia Honeycutt (Kayla’s sister) and Maria Capito (Emily’s sister).
Four Hornets qualified for the individual state championships — with Kayla Honeycutt and Rusher qualifying as regional doubles champions and Julia Honeycutt and Maria Capito qualifying in singles. Maria Capito, who played No. 4 singles for the Hornets, won the CCC tournament and the Midwest Regional.
There also was considerable success around the county, including a singles qualifier for the 3A state tournament. That was West Rowan freshman Payton Holt. She was runner-up in the SPC tournament to Cox Mill standout Sarah Jiang and will play a major role in the future of Rowan County tennis.
A host of girls were strong enough in their conference tournaments to qualify for regional play — so many that it wasn’t possible for all of the regional qualifiers to make the all-county team.
North Rowan’s top player, junior Samantha Pritchard, repeats on the all-county team. She was all-conference and was a regional qualifier.
The other five players chosen for the all-county team are regional qualifiers from Carson and East Rowan.
Carson, which won two 3A playoff matches, finished second in the South Piedmont Conference and has three representatives — Gabi Jolly, Siera Fesperman and Emily Sloop.
East placed third in the SPC and qualified for the state playoffs. East has two representatives — Katie Barnes and Angel Scialdone.
Holt, Jolly, Fesperman, Barnes and Scialdone were All-SPC players.
The balance of power in the county could change next season, with Salisbury graduating four seniors. They’ll be separated after a lot of lessons, a lot of years and a lot of wins.
Kayla Honeycutt hasn’t decided yet where she’ll go to college. She’s a 5.0 student — yes, 5.0 — so she will have plenty of good options.
There are small schools with strong academic programs where she could continue to play tennis, but there’s also the possibility that she’ll go to a large school and leave tennis behind.
Whatever road she chooses, she’ll be a success.
“Kayla is really strong mentally,” Rusher said. “And she’s always a positive person.”

Comments

Crime

Two more charged for operating illegal gambling businesses

Education

A.L. Brown celebrates seniors with signing day

Business

Rebounding, but not recovered: Rowan County tourism begins challenging path toward normalcy

High School

High school baseball: Padgett leads Mustangs; 100th win for West coach Graham

Coronavirus

RSS superintendent, Board of Health discuss strategies for increasing student vaccination rates

Nation/World

Gas stations report shortages as pipeline shutdown drags on

News

Lawyers: Black man didn’t drive into deputies who shot him

Nation/World

Liz Cheney says Trump and GOP backers threaten democracy

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department clarifies county’s COVID-19 death total is 301

Landis

Landis approves new land development ordinance, zoning map

Landis

Landis approves body camera, stun gun purchase for public safety officers

Crime

One charged, another dead on sheriff’s most wanted list

Crime

No injuries after car shot eight times on Old Concord Road

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament

News

Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina

News

House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business