The Mount Airy tennis team will probably have to settle for a Northwest Conference co-championship this spring.
The Granite Bears needed a victory at Bishop McGuinness on Thursday evening in order to all but lock up an outright title, but Mount Airy couldn’t complete the season sweep of the Villains, falling 7-2 in Kernersville. Mount Airy followed that up with a 9-0 shellacking of Walkertown on Friday, but the loss to Bishop all but guarantees that the two teams will share the conference title for 2017.
The Bears (14-2, 6-1 NW1A) beat Bishop 6-3 back on March 21. They had led the conference all to themselves ever since, until the rematch finally occurred on Thursday. The Villains (11-1, 6-1) had been hampered in that match by the absence of the team’s No. 4 singles player, Samuel McDonald, and his return, along with playing on their home courts, gave Bishop the advantage in the rematch. Mount Airy won the Nos. 1 and 2 singles behind Hunt Harrison and Emory Bray, but the Villains won everything else.
The teams split the first four singles. McDonald was the first one to win, downing Owen Perkins 6-3, 6-0. However, Harrison tied the match when he defeated Henry Kirby 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 at the top of the lineup. Bishop’s Alex Chinnasami beat Hunter Eaton 6-4, 6-3 at No. 3, but Bray downed Adam Chinnasami 6-0, 7-6 (7-3) at No. 2 singles to tie the score again.
Bishop, with McDonald back in the lineup, was much stronger at the bottom of the order. Jimmy Dasher defeated Kaleb Morrison 6-2, 6-0 at No. 5 and Luke Kreber beat Cayden Hill 6-3, 6-2 to end the singles 4-2 in favor of the Villains.
Mount Airy needed to sweep the doubles to win the match, but couldn’t win any of them.
Kirby and Dasher, playing No. 2 for Bishop, gave the Villains the win with an 8-2 win over Eaton and Morrison. McDonald and Michael Angion defeated Perkins and Hill 10-7. The No. 1 doubles was the last match left on the court, and the Chinnasami brothers beat Harrison and Bray 10-7, avenging their loss from earlier this season by the same score.
The next evening against Walkertown, the Wolfpack were a man down, with their No. 3 seed out due to illness, and so they were only able to field five players. The Bears opened the match up 2-0, thanks to forfeits at No. 6 singles and No. 3 doubles.
Truth be told, Mount Airy would have won this one anyway. The Bears swept Walkertown back on March 14 at full strength, and the missing man just made it easier. Harrison, Eaton and Morrison all had double-bagel victories. Bray lost two games in his match (6-2, 6-0) and Perkins enjoyed a 6-0, 6-1 victory.
The important thing for Mount Airy may have been that Harrison and Bray got back on track as a doubles team, after suffering their only defeats of the season in back-to-back matches. Against the Wolfpack’s Jarod Gandy and Wesley Briles, they inexplicably lost the first two games before righting themselves and winning six in a row. Gandy and Briles held for 6-3, but then Harrison and Bray won out to finish last match of the evening. Eaton and Hill had already scored an 8-0 shutout at No. 2 doubles, while Perkins and Morrison had a walkover.
The Bears had a scheduled match with East Wilkes on Monday, but this has been cancelled. Mount Airy will host South Stokes on Wednesday and East Surry on Thursday.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.