EAST BEND — For the second match in a row, Mount Airy’s tennis team was missing a key performer.
And once again, it didn’t matter.
Top seed Hunt Harrison was back in action for the Granite Bears after missing the team’s most recent match, but this time around, it was third-seed Hunter Eaton’s turn to be out sick, and so each of the next three starters moved up a notch and freshman Hernan Ramirez earned his second career starting assignment on Monday afternoon at Forbush.
The Bears did even better than they had last week against Atkins, shutting out the Falcons 9-0 even without Eaton.
Mount Airy swept the singles with every player winning in straight sets, and two of the three doubles matches ended in shutouts.
Kaleb Morrison, playing at No. 4 singles in this one, lost the first service game to Jaedan Gage and then won the next 12 in a row, putting the Bears in front 1-0 in the team tally. Emory Bray, back at his usual No. 2 position, held serve every time until he led 5-0 in the second set, when he lost a break but then broke back for a 6-2, 6-1 win over Matt Wilhelm and a 2-0 lead for his team. Cayden Hill, who was the third Bear to finish up, had a similar script in his No. 5 singles match. He held serve every time in set one against Seth Anderson, allowed a break to open set two, but then won out, 6-2, 6-1.
Owen Perkins, filling in at No. 3, blanked Peyton Eldridge in the first set, but then trailed 1-2 in the second before also winning out, 6-0, 6-2. That left it to Ramirez to secure the team win for the Bears. He actually lost his first two service games, but then righted the ship and claimed a 6-4, 6-2 win over Alex Peña.
Harrison, in his return to the lineup, was the last one on the court. His No. 1 singles match against Forbush’s Lance Kennedy started out rather unusually, with each player breaking the other’s serve repeatedly until Harrison finally held at 3-2 in the first set and went on to win the set 6-3. He allowed a break early in set two, when the players were otherwise holding their serves, but rallied for a 4-3 lead and went on to take the match 6-3, 6-4.
In doubles, Morrison and Ramirez made short work of Gage and Peña to win the No. 3 doubles 8-0 and make it 7-0 in favor of the Bears. Not long after, Perkins and Hill had done the same to Eldridge and Anderson. Once again, Harrison was one of the last players on the court, teamed with Bray in the No. 1 doubles against Kennedy and Wilhelm. They were ahead 7-1 when they lost two straight service games, but then broke back at 7-4 to finish the match.
The 7-1 Bears host unbeaten Bishop McGuinness today in a battle for the Northwest 1A Conference lead. They will travel to North Surry on Wednesday and to Galax on Thursday.