Mount Airy three-peats in 1A tennis championship
by Jeff Linville Staff Reporter
CARY — Mount Airy won its third-straight 1A tennis championship with a 6-0 sweep of Raleigh Charter Saturday.
The Lady Bears took care of business quickly, not even going to a third set in any of the six singles matches to earn the three-peat, as NBA coach Pat Riley coined the phrase.
“We weren’t really sure what to expect,” said Bear Coach Scott Kniskern. “We didn’t know much about Raleigh Charter.”
While the Bears post all their results on the website MyTennisNetwork.com, Raleigh Charter didn’t have a single score posted.
Still, after the West players dominated in singles and doubles at the individual championship, Kniskern had an idea that their team was favored.
However, Kniskern told his girls to prepare for this squad like it was Bishop McGuinness they would play because it couldn’t get any tougher than that.
The Bears played the Lady Villains four times this season, and every time was very close.
Mount Airy had such a battle to get past Bishop in the semifinals earlier in the week that the final was almost anticlimactic, the coach said. Rather than race out on the courts, yelling at each other, the players simply huddled together at the end of the sixth match.
“We were fortunate that it went in our favor and we didn’t have too tough a time,” said Kniskern.
After playing a lot of doubles recently in the regional and state tournaments, top seed Davi Barbour put on a dominant display and earned the MVP award for the final.
Darden King, who Davi was playing, was a very good player, but she didn’t have a great deal of power, said Kniskern. Davi took advantage of that to move King around the court and set her up for some passing shots.
When she had looks, Barbour hit some laser-accurate shots down the lines.
“She had a ton of winners,” he said.
Even though Barbour won 6-1, 6-1, the match took so long that Mount Airy already was ahead 4-0 at the time, so the win clinched the state title.
Fourth seed Jai Daniels was the first player to walk off the courts after her opponent retired before the second set.
Jai won the set 6-1, but Mackie Randall is a diabetic who apparently was having trouble regulating her blood sugar at the end of the set, explained Kniskern.
Third seed Bree Hughes was the first player to win two sets as she breezed past Kaeli Beaver 6-0, 6-1.
That put the Bears ahead 2-0.
On Court Five, Lake Norman’s Logan Furr went down and was holding her ankle early in the first set against Carley VanHoy.
VanHoy was sporting an ankle brace herself from a sprain she suffered a couple of weeks ago.
Furr attempted to play, but didn’t win a game after that as VanHoy ran away with it 6-1, 6-0.
Freshman Bailey Jackson won her first five games against Mackenzie Deloatch and continued on for a 6-3, 6-2 win.
Jackson lost only one singles match all season, and that came to 2A state champion Salisbury.
Bailey won in all four matches against Bishop, including one match where she played up at the fifth seed when Carley had her ankle sprain, noted Kniskern.
When Barbour finished her match, second seed Haley Thomas was the last player on the courts.
The state directors said the match could halt right then, but Thomas and opponent Kami Edwards wanted to finish their play.
Thomas won 6-2, 6-4 to complete the sweep.
Before the Bears received their championship plaque, the N.C. High School Athletic Association presented its Sportsmanship Award to one player on each team.
Kniskern said the NCHSAA had contacted him for his input on the award.
The coach said there are several girls on the squad who are deserving of such an award, but the best choice was Bree Hughes.
Bree has become more aggressive as a junior. She can still hold some long rallies, but she also can attack for points, he said.
All the while, she is very gracious on the court and always is generous when making line calls, he said.
She handles herself well on and off the court and is a great cheerleader for her teammates.
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