ELKIN — Mitch Kessler of Mount Airy finished second at the 1A Western tennis regional at Elkin High School.
Kessler, a senior, defeated John Latimer of Gray Stone Day 7-5, 7-5 in the regional semifinal Saturday morning to set up a matchup with Elkin’s Ryan Schell in the regional final.
Two weeks ago, Kessler beat Schell during a regular-season match, 7-6, 6-4. However, in the regional final Kessler fell 6-3, 6-1.
Against Schell on Saturday, Kessler held opening serve, and each player held successive serves until 3-3 when Kessler was broken on his next two service games and dropped the set 6-3.
In the second set, Schell held serve to go up 1-0. Down 3-0, Kessler held serve to close at 3-1 but was unable to finish two break points and trailed 4-1. In his next service game of 14 points, Kessler had two game points but was broken and trailed 5-1. Kessler continued to play hard for each point in the next game, but Schell held serve to finish 6-1 and win the match.
This was Kessler’s sixth match in three days and only his second loss of the season (24-2).
Latimer defeated Kessler last year in the semis in split sets, but the Granite Bear got his revenge in the morning session.
During Saturday’s semifinal, Kessler held opening serve and was up 2-1 when he was broken by Latimer, and each player failed to hold his next serve. At 3-4, Kessler broke Latimer and held serve to go up 5-4. At 6-5, Kessler broke Latimer to take the first set 7-5.
Kessler held serve to open the second set but was broken on his next serve and was down 2-1. He broke Latimer and held to go up 3-2. Service breaks put Kessler ahead 4-3. After each held for two successive serves, Kessler broke Latimer at 6-5 to finish the set and advance to the finals.
Kessler will be the No. 2 seed from the West in the championships at Cary on Thursday, with the opportunity to play for a state title.
The Bears travel to Pine Lake Prep on Tuesday in the second round of the dual team playoffs.
Sam McLaughry and Zack Jones of Bishop McGuinness captured the regional doubles title on Saturday, beating Elkin’s David Bullin and Chad Vestal in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. Both teams move on to compete in the state tournament.
Note: An incorrect score was recorded in Kessler’s second round match on Friday. Kessler defeated Jacob Lyon of Elkin 6-4, 6-0.