The Lady Bears and Cards will be in action this afternoon as the Northwest Conference 1A tennis tournament begins.
Six players from each team will take part in either singles or doubles play at Mount Airy High School.
Mount Airy returns five of the six players who all reached the finals last year, while East Surry will be looking to at least make the top three in order to qualify for the regional tournament at East Montgomery next week.
The 1A coaches worked out the seedings over the weekend.
In singles play, conference champion Jordan Jackson (Mount Airy) is the top seed. Kyndall Cortes (Bishop McGuinness), who finished third last year, is the number two seed.
Bree Hughes had a good season for the Bears as a fifth seed, but for this tournament she didn’t make the top six. She will be in a play-in match to see who will face Cortes as the seventh seed.
Her opponent will be Gina Rutledge, South Stokes’ number one seed when the Sauras played the Bears last week.
Jackson will await the winner of the other play-in match between South Stokes’ Tori Everly and North Stokes’ Hannah Mabe.
Bishop’s second player, Morgan Auger, would have been seeded third for this event, but that would put her on the same side of the bracket as her teammate Cortes.
Instead, Auger was swapped with East Surry’s Haley Manuel, so the Cards’ two singles players are on opposite sides as well.
Manuel takes on Miranda Hammonds (North Stokes) with the winner advancing to face the winner of Cortes’ quarterfinal bout.
Auger will face East’s Brooke Tickle for the right to play the winner of Jackson’s quarterfinal match.
This alignment keeps teammates from playing each other early, noted East Coach Mike Kiser.
The soonest two Cards or Bears could face each other is in the final, like last year when Jackson and Merry Kessler faced off.
On the doubles side, Mount Airy returns both its top two teams.
Juniors Davi Barbour and Haley Thomas won the conference and regional tournaments last year, then advanced to the state semifinals. They hold the top seed today.
Seniors Jade Hughes and Elizabeth Dinkins were the top seeds last year before being upset by their younger teammates. Then they advanced to the state finals before finishing second. With Dinkins missing time this year with an illness, the teammates did not get the top seed as they did a year ago.
Downing either of those duos could be a challenge. Fortunately, to advance to the regional tournament, a pair needs only to finish in the top three.
The play-in match to face the top seed pits North Stokes’ Brittany Foley and Emily Myers against Julie Linville and Kristen Denny of South Stokes.
The play-in to face Jade Hughes and Dinkins will feature East Surry’s Allie Hawks and Hannah Haynes against Jenny Glidewell and Taylor Evans of South Stokes.
The three/six match is North Stokes’ Rebecca Gunter and Mallie Ziglar against Bishop’s Anna Petrangeli and Anna Owens. The victor will take on the winner of the Hughes/Dinkins quarterfinal match.
The four/five match is East’s Lauren Thompson and Tiffany King against Bishop’s Adaire Hudson and Megan McDowell. The winner will take on the winner of the Barbour/Thomas quarterfinal.
Bear Coach Scott Kniskern said his girls are excited about getting started in the playoffs. They also hope to defend their 1A dual-team title when the team playoffs begin next Tuesday.
East Coach Mike Kiser said he hopes his squad is ready to play after so much inactivity recently. The Cards have played just one match in a week and a half, a close loss to Surry Central. East Surry was supposed to play Bishop Monday, but that match was rained out for the third time. The teams will not reschedule the match this time.
The Cards finish in fourth place and just miss out on the 1A playoffs. Mount Airy gets the top spot in dual-team playoffs, Bishop is second and North Stokes is third after beating the Cards in both head-to-head matches.
As for the individual playoffs, the regional 1A tournament will be held in 10 days at East Montgomery High School in Biscoe. The two-day tournament begins at 2 p.m. on Oct. 19. Those finishing in the top three in singles or doubles this week will qualify for the field.