East Surry sent a senior, four sophomores and a freshman onto the court for Thursday’s tennis battle with county rival Mount Airy, and the difference in experience showed as the sixth-ranked Granite Bears finally scored their first conference win of the 2018 season.
Mount Airy (6-2, 1-1 Northwest 1A Conference) had so far only faced Bishop McGuinness in league action, with the Bears dropping their first meeting with the team they shared last year’s league title with. All of the Bears’ other matches to date had been non-conference affairs.
The Cardinals weren’t able to match the Bears’ level of experience and dropped every match, with no one able to take more than three games of any set against Mount Airy, which used seven players in the match, five of whom are juniors and seniors.
Four of the six singles matches were won by the Bears without losing a game. Top-seeded Emory Bray downed Ryan Sigmon, No. 2 Harrison Morris did the same to AJ Key, No. 4 Kaleb Morrison swept Eli Gray and No. 5 Owen Perkins shut out Nathan Cox. At No. 3 singles, Hunter Eaton lost the first game of set two against Ryan Presnell but then won six straight to take the match 6-0, 6-1. This match also gave Mount Airy the fifth team point and clinched the victory. In the No. 6 singles match, East freshman Lee Knight won two games against the Bears’ Cayden Hill but lost 6-2, 6-0 to conclude this portion of the match.
In the doubles, Key and Presnell were able to present a bit of a challenge at No. 1. The two sophomores dropped the first game, but then traded breaks, and it was 4-3 before Bray and Morris, both upperclassmen, were able to hold and break, taking control of the match at 6-3 and going on to an 8-3 win. The win improved their season record at No. 1 doubles to 7-1.
By the time they were done with that match, teammates Morrison and Perkins had already shut out Sigmon and Cox at No. 2 doubles. The No. 3 doubles match was the last one on the courts. Eaton and Ryan Graham stayed unbeaten in three matches despite losing serve once. They won their final four games against Gray and Knight to take an 8-2 victory.
The Bears return to action with a trip to North Surry on Monday. The Cardinals (3-3) will travel to Elkin on Wednesday.