RONDA — The end of the week brought a split decision for the Mount Airy tennis team.
The Granite Bears were on the road for both of their matches on Thursday and Friday, which came against the two strongest teams that they had faced this year. On Thursday night, Mount Airy downed 4A R.J. Reynolds 7-2 in Winston-Salem, but then had to hit the road again on Friday to complete a match with East Wilkes that had begun back on Feb. 25, but was suspended due to rain. The Bears rallied impressively when the match was resumed, but still came up short by a 5-4 score. It was Mount Airy’s first loss of the 2017 season.
Against Reynolds, the Bears won the first four singles matches and then swept all three doubles, although several of the wins were very competitive. On the other hand, so were the two singles matches that Mount Airy lost.
Top seed Hunt Harrison was down 2-3 in the first set against Grayson Lievens, but then lost just two games the rest of the way, prevailing 6-4, 6-1 for the Bears’ first team point. No. 3 Hunter Eaton was the next to finish his match, despite it going to a match tiebreaker. Eaton blanked James Vlasis 6-0 in the first set, but then seemed to completely unravel, losing set two 6-1 and falling behind 2-5 in the tiebreaker. Finally, he got his game back together and won three of the next four points, and finally took the lead at 9-8 before winning the last point for the match and a 2-0 Bear edge.
Fifth-seeded Kaleb Morrison made it 3-0 for the visitors with a much less dramatic 6-4, 6-2 victory over Ian Davis-Huie. It became 4-0 when Mount Airy’s second seed, Emory Bray, rallied from down 3-6, 1-2 to get back into his match with Elliot Copeland. Bray tied the second set at 5-5, but then gave up a service break and stared down seven match points before finally breaking back at 5-6 to force a set tiebreaker, where he won seven out of nine points to claim the set. In the match tiebreaker that followed, Bray routed Copeland 10-2 for the unlikely match win.
The Demons finally turned the tables at No. 4, where Will Rawlings narrowly defeated Owen Perkins 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) for Reynolds’ first point. They made it 4-2 when sixth-seeded Matthew Taylor beat the Bears’ Cayden Hill in a near-replay of the No. 2 singles match, coming from behind for a 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), (10-8) win.
However, there was no comeback for the Demons. Harrison and Bray beat Copeland and Vlasis 8-4 for the match-clinching fifth point. Morrison and Hill won their doubles match 8-2 and Eaton and Perkins finished up last, downing Rawlings and Taylor 8-5.
The Bears’ loss to East Wilkes hinged on the outcome of the No. 3 doubles match. East Wilkes had won all of the bottom four singles matches and led 4-2 at that point, meaning Mount Airy could only win if it swept the doubles.
Harrison and Bray got the team off to a good start on Friday, routing Landon Osborne and Josh Logan 10-3 to pull their team within 4-3. The other two doubles matches were close throughout, and at times during the contests, Mount Airy had the lead in both of them. However, Morrison and Hill were unable to hold on at No. 3 after taking an early 3-2 lead. The match turned when they lost a service break at 6-7. They held serve once, but needed a break at 7-9 and couldn’t get it against Nick Wooldredge and Josiah Sparks. However, the No. 2 doubles team of Eaton and Perkins did beat Kyle Rhodes and Andrew Sells by the same 10-7 count.
Harrison and Bray were the only Bears to win in singles. Harrison outlasted Osborne 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, while Bray defeated Rhodes 6-4, 6-1.
Mount Airy will visit North Surry on Monday.