PILOT MOUNTAIN — The East Surry girls’ tennis team is in the midst of a banner year for the program. Already with a win over Mount Airy, the Cardinals are hoping to make a deep run in the 1A state playoffs when the regular season comes to an end.
However, there’s been just one thorn in East Surry’s side this season, and that thorn is the Bishop McGuinness Villains.
On Wednesday night, the Villains handed the Cardinals their second loss of the year in a 5-4 decision. East Surry (12-2, 8-2) hoped to avenge a loss earlier this season to the defending 1A state champions, but came up just short.
“I am so incredibly proud of my girls,” Cardinal coach Ashley Powell said. “We take today and we learn that we can go out and compete with a team that’s supposed to be the best.”
The deciding match came from the second-seeded doubles position. East Surry’s duo of Allie Hawks and Klaudia Tucker got off to a great start and led 6-3, but Bishop’s Becky Auger and Claire Rogers won four straight games to hold a 7-6 advantage.
Hawks and Tucker battled to the very end and forced a tiebreak, but a slow start doomed the pair of Cardinals. Auger and Rogers jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead and carried that momentum to a 10-7 win for Bishop that clinched the match.
“I honestly thought about halfway through doubles that we weren’t going to win,” Villains coach Catherine Lassiter said. “I thought the only thing that could make us win is if our girls hyper-focused. (East Surry) played really well.”
The Cardinals were able to keep things tight despite losing the top three singles matches.
East Surry’s No. 1 seed Tiffany King looked like she would compete early on, but Morgan Auger got stronger as the match wore on in a 6-4, 6-0 win for the Villains. Second-seeded Makayla Keener struggled with Anna Petrangeli’s strength in a 6-0, 6-2 Bishop victory.
No. 3 seed Allie Hawks held a 2-1 lead before Becky Auger began to find her groove. Hawks fell 6-2, 6-1, and the Villains held a 3-0 lead.
The bottom three seeds for East Surry rose to the occasion, though, and tied the match up before the doubles’ portion began.
Six-seeded Haley Jenelle was the first Cardinal to record a win, dominating Candyce Sturgeon 6-1, 6-0. Jenelle used an electric serve and a solid forehand to cruise to victory.
Mikayla Manuel gave East Surry its second win with a 6-4, 7-5 result. Fifth-seeded Manuel trailed throughout much of the second set, but she won the final three games to clinch the win.
Finally in singles, Tucker outlasted Rogers in a tight 6-4, 4-6, 10-8 win. The third-set tiebreak was tied at five before Tucker rattled off four consecutive points to seize control.
Bishop’s top-seeded pair of Morgan Auger and Petrangeli continued their stellar play in doubles with a 10-0 win over King and Keener.
In the No. 3 doubles’ match, Manuel and Abigail Martin stayed undefeated this season with a 10-6 victory.
East Surry will now look to finish strong in its final two games of the season against Winston-Salem Prep and Mount Airy before the conference tournament.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16