Lady Bears fall just short to Bishop in tennis
by Jeff Linville Staff Reporter
KERNERSVILLE — Bishop McGuinness broke Mount Airy’s conference winning streak in tennis with a narrow 5-4 victory Tuesday.
The Lady Bears went undefeated the past two years on route to back-to-back state 1A titles.
With three starters gone to graduation, the Bears have reloaded with some young talent, but may need some more matches to gel.
Coach Scott Kniskern said the players and parents seemed disappointed with the winning streak ending, but he told them that he would rather have the team tested early in order to make another deep run in the playoffs.
The Bears swept their first three matches by a combined 27-0, so this was the team’s first chance to be tempered in the fire of competition.
Some players really rose to the challenge. Kniskern pointed to the play of junior Bree Hughes and freshman Bailey Jackson.
Second seed Haley Thomas was out with strep throat, which forced the four lower seeds to step up a spot, and brought Abby Hagwood into the starting lineup.
Hughes, the usual third seed, went up against Bishop’s Morgan Auger and won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. She also teamed up with Carley VanHoy to win the top doubles match 10-7 over Bishop’s top seed, Kyndall Cortes, and third-seeded Anna Owen.
Jackson moved from sixth to fifth and beat Anna Petrangeli in a third-set tiebreaker.
Petrangeli won the first set 7-5, but Jackson roared back with a 6-2 second set, then won the 10-point third set.
In doubles, Jackson teamed up with top seed Davi Barbour to win 10-6 over Auger and fourth-seeded Adaire Hudson.
While Hughes and Jackson won their singles matches, the Bears lost the other four spots and were down 2-4 in the best five-of-nine format.
Thomas not only has a great singles record, but she and Barbour are the two-time conference doubles champions. Bishop is a tough team to beat with a full lineup, said Kniskern, so he knew it would be even tougher without Haley.
At the top spot, Cortes beat Barbour 6-3, 6-3. At the third spot, Owen defeated Jai Daniels 6-3, 6-2. At four, Hudson beat VanHoy 7-5, 6-3.
Hagwood stepped into the sixth spot and very nearly gave the Bears a win.
She lost the first set 6-2 to Nicole Saia, but bounced back with a 6-2 second set before falling in the tiebreaker.
Then in doubles, Hagwood and Daniels gave Bishop everything it could handle in the third doubles match.
It was back and forth between Hagwood and Daniels and Bishop’s Petrangeli and Saia, according to Kniskern. There was no telling who was going to win.
From a 6-all tie, Bishop pulled away for a 10-6 win that clinched the team victory.
On Thursday, the Bears (3-1) host East Surry, another team coming off a narrow 5-4 loss.
Next week, Mount Airy has Winston-Salem Prep, then has an open spot where the team would have played Walkertown, who doesn’t have a squad this year. Kniskern said he has been making some calls to see if some other school wants to play that day so that his players don’t get rusty.
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