CARY —Mitch Kessler of Mount Airy won his first match, then fell in the semifinals of the 1A state tennis championships on Thursday at the Cary Tennis Center.
Kessler beat Abichiran Baskaran of Raleigh Charter in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4 to set up a match against Dylan Cuddington of Rosewood in the semis. Kessler lost that match 6-3, 6-4.
Kessler finished the season 26-3.
Cuddington would finish the state runner-up after losing to Elkin’s Ryan Schell on Friday.
Cuddington survived break point to hold the opening serve. Kessler responded with his save on break point to tie it 1-1. Kessler broke Cuddington at 15-40 to go up 2-1. Up game point, Kessler was broken after committing three successive errors.
At 2-2, Cuddington held serve to go ahead 3-2. Kessler responded with an overhead game winner to hold serve and even the score 3-3. Cuddington held serve to go up 4-3. Two double faults from Kessler led to a break in his next service game, and he was down 5-3. Kessler’s four unforced errors on Cuddington’s serve finished the set at 6-3.
In the second set, Kessler was broken on opening serve. In a 14-point game, Cuddington held serve to go up 2-1. Each held successive serves with Kessler trailing 3-1. Kessler next rallied from 15-40 to earn deuce with an ace, but he was broken after two straight unforced errors.
Cuddington held serve to go up 5-1. Kessler committed only five unforced errors in the next three games to hold successive serves and earn a break. Cuddington appeared to weaken physically, and Kessler stepped up his level of play by reducing his unforced errors and hitting more winners.
Kessler’s valiant rally fell short when Cuddington held serve to secure the match at 6-4.
In the first round of the state championship, Kessler beat Baskaran, a freshman and the No. 3 seed from the East. Baskaran held opening serve. In his opening serve, Kessler was down two match points before winning the game with an ace. Kessler broke Baskaran’s serve to go up 2-1. Kessler went up 4-2 after a 14-point game.
Baskaran double-faulted at game point to give Kessler a 5-2 lead. Kessler held serve to finish the set 6-2.
Each held opening serves in the second set, before Kessler earned a break to go up 2-1. Up 3-1, Kessler failed at break point to go up 4-1. Instead, at 3-2, each held two successive scores with Kessler leading 5-4. He held serve on match point to win 6-4.
Elkin also qualified a doubles team into the finals, as Chad Vestal and David Bullin won both of their matches on Thursday.
But they lost on Friday to Sam McLaughry and Jack Jones of Bishop McGuinness in the doubles championship match.