PILOT MOUNTAIN — Whatever it takes, the Surry Central tennis team has been able to do this season.
The Lady Eagles had to dig down deep in Wednesday’s rematch with county rival East Surry, which saw the singles matches conclude with the host Lady Cardinals as winners of four of the six singles matches. In order to avoid its first defeat of the season, Central would have to sweep the three doubles matches.
Of course, they did just that, claiming victory in three closely-contested showdowns and winning the match 5-4.
In the first two weeks of the 2017 season, Surry Central (5-0, 1-0 Western Piedmont Athletic Conference) has already defeated the state’s Nos. 3 (Mount Airy), 6 (East Surry, twice) and 7 (East Wilkes) ranked teams in the N.C. High School Tennis Coaches’ Association 1A poll. The team has yet to receive any votes in the state 2A poll, but the series of impressive victories is giving them a strong argument.
For the second straight time against the Lady Cardinals, Central was unable to close the deal in match tiebreakers. Two of the first three singles matches all went to one, and East Surry prevailed in both of them. The only singles matches that were not particularly close were the ones that the Lady Eagles won. At No. 5, Mamie Smith beat Haley Gilley 6-4, 6-2, and at No. 6, Mattie Grace Snow downed Daphne Dotson 6-1, 6-4.
The rest of the singles went to the hosts. At No. 4, Carson Payne defeated Haily Robertson in straight sets, but it was very close at 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).The No. 2 singles match was a win for Abigail Martin over Sarah Wyble, 7-5, 6-3.
At No. 1 singles, the Lady Cardinals’ Haley Jennelle got blanked by Hannah Pardue in the opening set, but rallied to win set two and then took the match tiebreaker on the first extra point, 0-6, 6-2, (11-9). At No. 3, Central’s Sarah Marion won the first set of her match with Sarah Mann in a set tiebreaker, but Mann had the upper hand the rest of the way, winning 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, (10-8).
Several Lady Eagle players were in need of redemption, and if they wanted to stay unbeaten, failure was not an option in the doubles. Smith and Snow teamed up and did their part at No. 3 doubles, beating Payne and Lili Craven 8-4. Now the Lady Cardinals could win just by winning at 1 or 2, while Central had to completely reverse the verdict of the singles to win.
Both Central teams managed to get up a break during the doubles matches and then hang on. Pardue and Wyble topped Jennelle and Mann, while Marion and Robertson beat Martin and Gilley. The score in both matches was 8-5 in the Lady Eagles’ favor.
At 5-2 on the season with only a pair of one-match setbacks to Central on its ledger, East Surry looks like a serious contender for this year’s Northwest 1A Conference title. The Lady Cardinals start their quest for it on Tuesday at North Stokes. Four-time Western Piedmont 2A champ Surry Central plays its second conference contest today at home against Forbush.