PFAFFTOWN — Two road matches on back-to-back days in Forsyth County didn’t go well for the Mount Airy tennis team last week.
The Granite Bears, ranked fifth in the latest N.C. Tennis Coaches’ Association 1A poll, traveled to Northwest 1A Conference rival Bishop McGuinness on Thursday and then to 4A Reagan on Friday, and lost both matches by a count of 6-3.
Against the Villains, Mount Airy lost four of the six singles matches and two of the three doubles. The deciding factor between the Bears and the fourth-ranked Villains came in the form of three matches that were decided by a match tiebreaker. Bishop won two of the three and took the match.
The teams tied for the NW1A title a year ago, but Bishop had the upper hand in three subsequent meetings after the Bears won the first last season. This time around, the teams started out on even terms. The Villains’ No. 3, Alex Chinnasami, shut out Hunter Eaton even though Eaton sent four games in the second set to deuce. However, the Bears’ Emory Bray evened the match by downing Henry Kirby 6-2, 6-3 at No. 1 singles, sweeping the last four games of their match. Bishop regained the lead when Sam McDonald topped Harrison Morris 6-4, 6-2 at No. 2, but then the fourth singles ended in an exciting 2-6, 7-6 (7-1), 1-0 (11-9) victory for Kaleb Morrison over Bishop’s Jimmy Dasher. Morrison trailed 4-5 in the second set after giving up a break, but broke back, eventually won the set tiebreaker, and then ran up a 5-2 lead in the match tiebreaker before holding on.
Unfortunately, the rest of the singles went to the Villains. Bobby Peters beat Cayden Hill 6-2, 6-1 at No. 6 singles, and the Bears needed the win at 5 to split the singles. Owen Perkins nearly pulled it off for Mount Airy, winning the first set and then earning a match point at 5-4 in the second set. However, Bishop’s Chris Muller held and eventually earned a break. Perkins held at 5-6 to force a set tiebreaker, but Muller had the upper hand the rest of the way, winning 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 1-0 (10-6).
The Bears had to sweep the doubles to win the match and that wasn’t happening. McDonald and Chinnasami routed Eaton and Morrison 10-1 at No. 2 doubles, and the Villains had the win. Bray and Morris beat Kirby and Dasher 10-8, leaving the No. 3 doubles teams as the last ones on the court. Perkins and Hill lost four of the first five games to Bishop’s Michael Angino and Jefferson Bercaw. They battled back to 5-6 and 7-8, won the next game to force a tiebreaker, but lost four of the last five points of the tiebreaker to drop the match.
The next day at Reagan brought more craziness, as three of the six singles matches went to match tiebreakers. The Bears won two of them to split the singles, but then dropped all three doubles matches to hand victory to the Raiders.
Morrison opened with his second “overtime” win in as many days. He routed Langston Peoples 6-1, then got routed himself by the same score in the second set. In the tiebreaker, Morrison found his game again and won 10-6. The Raiders’ Yujin Kim tied the match by beating Hill 6-1, 6-4. Bray answered that with a come-from-behind win at No. 1 singles, downing Caleb Richmond 1-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-5). The key point in the match came when Bray earned a break at 5-4 to capture set two.
Reagan’s Krishna Kriplani tied the match again by beating Perkins 6-1, 6-2 at No. 5. Eaton beat Nick Rieker 6-2, 6-3 at No. 3, and the Bears had a chance for a 4-2 edge if Morris could have beaten Ethan Evans at second singles. He held at 6-5 to win set one, but surrendered two breaks and lost the second set. In the tiebreaker set, Morris led 4-0 and 7-1, but then dropped five straight. Evans eventually won the last three points and won 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (10-8).
As it turned out, it was academic because the Raiders swept the doubles. Evans and Peoples beat Bray and Morris 9-7, Richmond and Kriplani downed Eaton and Morrison 8-2, and Rieker and Kim defeated Perkins and Hill 8-3.
Mount Airy’s scheduled home match against Elkin was snowed out on Monday. The Bears will scheduled to travel to South Stokes today, but the Sauras cancelled their season, and so Mount Airy will try to make up the Elkin match today.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.