PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry’s march toward the Northwest 1A Conference tennis title hit a bump in the road Tuesday evening.
The Lady Cardinals needed a victory over Bishop McGuinness to lock up the league crown, but the Villains swept the doubles matches in the second showdown between the two teams, and claimed a 6-3 victory that catapulted them into a tie for first place in the league standings.
East Surry (11-3, 6-1 NW1A), which entered Tuesday’s match as the state’s second-ranked 1A team, had already beaten Bishop 5-4 in Kernersville back on Sept. 7. In the rematch, the teams split the doubles evenly, but the Villains (11-2, 8-1), who came into the match ranked fourth, swept the doubles matches and secured a split of the season series with the Lady Cardinals for the second year in a row.
The crucial doubles matches were decided on one or two service breaks in every instance. At No. 1 doubles, Bishop’s Becky Auger and Claire Rogers defeated Haley Jennelle and Sarah Mann 10-7. The No. 2 doubles match was a 10-6 win for the Villains’ Lydia Cortes and Michelle Petrangeli over Abigail Martin and Haley Gilley. The third doubles match pitted Bishop’s Megan Standen and Olivia Kennedy against East’s Carson Payne and Lili Craven, and ended 10-5.
The key to the match for Bishop may have been in the way they paired their players for doubles. While East Surry used the same lineup as in the first meeting, in which it won two of the three matches, the Villains used completely different pairings in the rematch.
The singles lineup was the same, and ended with the same outcome as 19 days earlier — a 3-3 split, in which East’s Nos. 2, 3 and 5 players won. On Tuesday, second-seeded Martin scored a 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 victory over Cortes, and No. 3 seed Mann defeated Rogers 6-1, 6-2. Gilley beat Standen 6-3, 6-2 at No. 5.
The Villains claimed the other three singles matches. Top-seeded Becky Auger outlasted Haley Jennelle 6-3, 6-1. Petrangeli topped Payne 6-2, 6-0 at No. 4 singles. In the No. 6 singles match, Daphne Dotson pushed the first set to a tiebreaker but then ran out of steam, falling 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 against Charlotte Dabar.
The teams are now effectively tied for first in the conference, but the Villains have the advantage of having already played all of their matches against contending teams. East Surry still has a road match at Mount Airy to play on Oct. 5, and the Lady Bears (8-5, 5-3) have stepped up their game, narrowly losing 5-4 to Bishop last week.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.