The Mount Airy tennis team knew what was at stake in its second match of the season against Bishop McGuinness.
After a 7-2 win over the Villains on Monday, the Granite Bears could have all but clinched a Northwest Conference championship with a victory on Thursday. The Granite Bears would have held a two-game lead over the Villains, who are the five-time defending champions in the league.
However, Bishop McGuinness showed its championship pedigree on Thursday and handed Mount Airy its first loss of the season with a 5-4 victory. The deciding match came at No. 1 doubles, where Bishop’s duo of Henry Kirby and Adam Chinnasami defeated Hunt Harrison and Harrison Morris 10-5.
The Granite Bears (12-1, 6-1) needed to win all three doubles matches after falling behind 4-2 in the singles portion on Thursday.
Gentry Williamson got Mount Airy off to a good start with an easy 6-3, 6-2 win from his No. 3 position, but Chinnasami immediately responded for the Villains with a 6-2, 6-0 victory against Morris.
The Bears took a 2-1 lead when Harrison defeated Bishop’s Kirby with a 6-2, 6-2 result, but Bishop McGuinness ran the table over the bottom three seeds.
The lone easy victory out of those final three matches came from Luke Kreber, who defeated Mount Airy’s Owen Perkins 6-2, 6-2.
The next singles match to finish was perhaps the tightest contest of the evening at the No. 4 seed. Bishop McGuinness’ Ivo Pestana bested Emory Bray 6-4 in the first set, but Bray rallied from behind to force a third set with a 7-5 victory.
But in the tiebreak, it was all Pestana, who gave his team a 3-2 advantage with a 10-2 win.
The final singles match to come to a close was the five-seed battle between Mount Airy’s Grey Tucker and Bishop’s Victor Carbone. Tucker fought to the end, but Carbone escaped with a 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5) win.
Bishop’s win at No. 1 doubles that clinched the victory was the first doubles match to conclude on Thursday. The Bears took the final two doubles matches, though, as Williamson and Bray combined for a 10-7 victory and Perkins teamed up with Hunter Eaton for a 10-6 win.
Mount Airy still has an opportunity to win the conference title this season. If the Villains and Bears each win their final regular season league match next week, the top two teams in the Northwest will face off for a tiebreak match sometime before the individual conference tournament.
Mount Airy coach Rodney Pell was thoroughly impressed with the Villains on Thursday.
“Bishop was well-prepared and highly motivated for today’s match,” Pell said.
The Bears have another tough match on the horizon with a double-header against Elkin on Tuesday. The first match between the two teams will complete a 3-3 tie that was suspended due to inclement weather earlier this season.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16