The regular season in the Northwest 1A Conference was a two-horse race, with Mount Airy and Bishop McGuinness swapping victories on each other’s home courts and then engaging in a 5-4 slobberknocker at a neutral site Monday just to decide the top seed for the state playoffs.
One day after the Granite Bears got the final word — at least for now — in that rivalry, the team played host to the conference tournament. Since the two schools couldn’t win everything in the first round of the tournament, this event is a three-horse race after Tuesday’s opening round matches.
The only three schools to still have active individuals or doubles teams alive after the first day are the two you would expect, plus Atkins, which finished third in the regular season and which still has active entries in both the singles and doubles.
With Bishop not entering its best players in the singles, today’s matches in that bracket are between the Bears and the Camels. Hunt Harrison, the tournament’s top seed, downed Bishop’s normal No. 5 seed Victor Carbone 6-0, 6-1 in his only match on Tuesday to advance to the semifinals. His opponent is fourth-seeded Josh Woodard of Atkins, who came from behind to beat East Surry’s Daniel Hancock 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to advance.
In the other half of the draw, the Bears’ Emory Bray pulled off the upset of third seed Jarod Gandy of Walkertown, 6-1, 7-5, to earn a semifinal berth. He will now take on No. 2 seed Dillon Jennings of Atkins, who eliminated Bishop’s Luke Kreber 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 to move on.
Bray’s victory had only a little more suspense than Harrison’s did, despite Gandy being seeded higher. After Bray easily took the first set, Gandy, who was the Wolfpack’s top seed during the regular season, scored a service break in set two to tie the match at 4-4, only to see Bray return the favor for the victory with Gandy serving at 5-6.
Both semifinals will be contested at 4 p.m. today, with the third-place and championship matches at 6.
The doubles features a power-packed field for today’s semis, as Bishop entered two strong doubles teams and both of them will be in action today. The top-seeded team, the Villains’ Lance Dittrich and Adam Chinnasami, rolled to a 6-3, 6-1 win over Ryan Sigmon and Ryan Sutterby of East Surry in their only action of the day. Sigmon and Sutterby had themselves advanced with a straight-set win in the preliminary round against a team from Walkertown.
Meanwhile, fourth-seeded Harrison Morris and Gentry Williamson of Mount Airy kept their date with the top seeds with a double-bagel rout of fifth-seeded Jonathan Grubbs and Anthony Dixon of Atkins. They will face Dittrich and Chinnasami at 4 today.
In the other half of the draw, second-seeded Henry Kirby and Ivo Pestana got a little more of a battle from the Bears’ Grey Tucker and Owen Perkins in their quarterfinal meeting, but the Villains prevailed 6-3, 6-4. Tucker and Perkins had earned their shot at the Bishop team by double-bageling a Walkertown team in the preliminary round. Against the Villains, Tucker and Perkins lost two service games at crucial points of set one, and then rallied from 2-5 to 4-5 in set two, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Kirby and Pestana will take on Akshat Dixit and Axel D’Agostino of Atkins today at 4 in the other semifinal. Dixit and D’Agostino beat Austin Parker and Brady Jessup of East Surry 7-5, 6-1 in their quarterfinal match on Tuesday. The championship and third-place matches will take place at 6 today.