KERNERSVILLE — It had been five years since the last time Mount Airy’s boys’ tennis team tasted victory against Bishop McGuinness.
The Granite Bears took care of that little problem on Monday afternoon, taking the Villains behind the woodshed for a 7-2 victory that gave undefeated Mount Airy a leg up in the race for the 2016 Northwest 1A Conference championship.
The Bears (11-0, 5-0 NW1A) won every match but the No. 1 singles and No. 2 doubles against Bishop (6-1, 3-1) and very easily could have swept the showdown. The Villains earned their only point in singles after Henry Kirby rallied from a set down to force a tiebreaker set, which he won 10-8 in a 3-6, 6-4, (10-8) victory over Mount Airy’s Hunt Harrison. The other point, at No. 2 doubles, was nearly as close. In that one, Kirby and Ivo Pestana held off the Bears’ Gentry Williamson and Emory Bray for a 9-7 victory.
Four of the six singles matches were straight-set wins for the visitors. Harrison Morris remained undefeated at No. 2 singles this season, routing Adam Chinnasami 6-4, 6-0. The No. 3 singles went to a tiebreaker, with Williamson outlasting Lance Dittrich 7-6 (7-0), 2-6, (10-7). Bray beat Pestana 7-5, 6-3 at No. 4 singles. The 2-3-4 matches were the first to finish up on the courts, so Mount Airy was already halfway to victory before the No. 1 match wrapped up. Even in that one, Harrison had to feel like he’d let his foe steal one, as he’d led the tiebreaker set 5-1 before faltering.
It didn’t faze the Bears either way. Grey Tucker made the team score 4-1 by downing Michael Angino 6-1, 6-2 while breaking Angino five times and never losing a service game of his own. When Owen Perkins put away Luke Kreber 6-1, 6-3 at No. 6 singles after swapping service breaks at the end of the second set, Mount Airy had the victory without even needing points from the doubles.
They got two more anyway. At No. 1 singles, Harrison and Morris went down a service break early against Chinnasami and Dittrich, but fought back and eventually held an 8-7 lead with Harrison on serve. He held serve and the Bears had their sixth win of the evening.
In the final match to be completed, Perkins and Hunter Eaton easily defeated Angino and Kreber 8-4 to stay unbeaten at No. 3 doubles.
In the next 10 days, the Bears could potentially lock up the conference title and become the favorites in the 1A East. They visit Walkertown today, but then rematch with Bishop here on Thursday. Next week, they start out with a challenging non-conference tilt at West Stokes on April 12, but then host Elkin the next day. The Buckin’ Elks, currently 9-0, opened the season hosting the Bears, but the match was called for darkness after the teams had split the singles matches 3-3.