The best five-loss tennis team in the state continued with its late-season roll on Thursday afternoon.
Mount Airy, which is ranked fifth in the state’s 1A ranks by the N.C. High School Tennis Association even with the five setbacks, gave further evidence that the assessment is a correct one, pounding North Stokes 8-1 for its fourth straight victory and improving its case for a return trip to the state playoffs.
Mount Airy (11-5 overall, 6-3 Northwest 1A Conference) dropped only the No. 4 singles match against the Lady Vikings, as Stokes’ Lauren Collins scored a 6-3, 6-2 win against Ashtyn Myers. There were some strongly competitive matches in the singles, but the Lady Bears locked up the team win before doubles play when fifth-seeded Anna Kate Tucker outlasted Grace Byerly 6-7 (0-7), 7-6 (7-3), (10-3) in a wild match that featured two set tiebreakers and then a match tiebreaker to boot.
Tucker, a sophomore, showed impressive resilience after dropping the first set and then getting broken on serve at 5-5. With Byerly serving to win the match, Tucker had to score a break of her own to stay alive, and did so, then won the set on a tiebreaker and the match on one as well.
Top-seeded Elizabeth Marion gave the Lady Bears a 1-0 edge when she wrapped up her 6-1, 6-4 victory over Alyssa Collins. The next match to finish was at the other end of the court, where Olivia Malone downed Cynthia Collins 6-2, 6-2. Freshman Olivia Perkins, playing out of the 3 hole, made it 3-0 Lady Bears when she defeated Tessa Sprinkle by the same score. No. 2 seed Meredith Marion got a battle from Stokes’ Brianna Lester. In that match, the younger Marion rallied from down 2-3 to win the first set, and then fell behind even worse in the second, down 2-5 before mounting a furious rally. She won the next two games in a row, then had to hold serve at 5-6 to send the set to a tiebreaker, which she did, and then won that going away by taking the last four games, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3).
The 1 and 2 doubles matches were no contest. The Marions defeated Lester and Sprinkle 8-1, and Perkins and Malone downed North Stokes’ Collins sisters 8-1 at No. 2. The third doubles match, the last one to be completed, pitted Myers and Tucker against Byerly and Addie Bryant. The Lady Vikings’ pair won four of the first seven games, but Myers and Tucker won the last five in a row to take the match 8-4.
The Lady Bears, who have lost only to the state’s second- and third-ranked 1A teams (East Surry and Bishop McGuinness) and its 10th-ranked 2A team (Surry Central), will rematch with North Stokes on Wednesday of next week.