The Mount Airy Middle School Lady Bears clinched a very sweet victory yesterday winning all singles and doubles matches against the Chestnut Grove Trojans. They clinched yet again the Foothills Conference Championship tennis title and remain undefeated in both singles and doubles for the season.
The victory was especially sweet because it marked a 100-game-in-a-row winning streak for the Lady Bears. This gives the middle school tennis powerhouse a record of 108-2 overall. Both losses were in 2003 and the team has won the Foothills Conference Championship title for 10 years in a row.
They celebrated their final victory of the season with signs, balloons, cake and parents congratulating them and the Lady Bears on their triumphant success.
Laken Joyce, head coach of the Chestnut Grove Trojans, said her team is young and building and knew they were going to be facing a very experienced team in the Lady Bears.
How do these Lady Bears get this kind of record? Lady Bears Coach Mary Alice Hayes attributes part of it to their tennis motto stated simply, “Tradition, pride and excellence.” Further, said Hayes, “I have been very blessed to work with this group of girls.”
Hayes noted the importance of fundamentals in practice at the “middle school level.” Consistency is key, she said, and further elaborated on the importance of it being taken seriously at this level in order to compete aggressively at the high school level.
The Lady Bears 10-year record is as follows: 2003 — 8-2; 2004 — 10-0; 2005 — 10-0; 2006 — 10-0; 2007 — 10-0; 2008 — 12-0; 2009 — 12-0; 2010 — 12-0; 2011 — 12-0; 2012 — 12-0.
In the match up yesterday, number one seated Bailey Jackson defeated Caroline Pulliam 8-0; number seated Baylee Atkins defeated Stephanie Henry 8-0; Elizabeth Marion defeated Laicey Sawyers 8-1; Logan King defeated Ashley Mabe 8-0; and Madison Wright defeated Lesly Marroquin 8-0. Lady Bears doubles with Jackson and Atkins beat Pulliam and Henry 8-0, and King and Wright defeated Sawyers and Marroquin 8-1. The number three doubles match was a forfeit because Chestnut Grove did not have enough players.
Bears player Logan King, who has gone undefeated every game this season, said she loves playing tennis and winning. King said that Coach Hayes is a good coach because “she cheers us on every match and never gives up.”
James Hayes, Mary Alice’s husband, celebrated with pride Monday the victory shared by his wife and her teammates. He is also a retired boys basketball, football and tennis coach and remarked about the passion both he and his wife share for the sport. Both were basketball coaches when they met, but it is tennis that has dominated their passion in the end.
Middle School Athletic Director Ricky Vernon said, “We are very proud of our team and honored to have Coach Hayes on our staff. We are so proud of what they have done for men and women’s tennis. I think their names are synonymous with tennis in Mount Airy.”
Middle school teacher Tina Vanhoy, whose daughter Carley Vanhoy now plays high school tennis, said she really appreciates the dedication that Mary Alice Hayes and her husband have shown the middle school tennis players. Carley said that Coach Hayes “always pushed and helped us to do our best.”
Teams in the middle school Foothills Conference are Piney Grove, Chestnut Grove, Southeastern, Central, Pilot Mountain, Meadowview, Gentry and Mount Airy. The Lady Bears finish out the season with a 12-0 record.
Reach Tanya Chilton at email@example.com or at 719-1921.