Mount Airy’s tennis team will probably have to settle for second place in the Northwest 1A Conference this season after coming up short in its rematch with league rival Bishop McGuinness on Tuesday evening.
The Granite Bears (7-3 overall) had hoped to reverse the verdict of their 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Villains back on March 8 in Kernersville, but Bishop, the state’s fourth-ranked 1A team, scored another 6-3 win over sixth-ranked Mount Airy and put a stranglehold on this year’s NW1A race.
Mount Airy was already up against long odds after losing four of the six singles matches, winning only at Nos. 1 and 6. The Villains then won two of the three doubles matches and walked out with the victory.
As usual, the matches were closely contested, with two singles matches going to a tiebreaker set and one of the doubles matches ending at 10-8. The Bears would have had to win all of the close matches to claim the win, but two of them went Bishop’s way.
There was little suspense for the two teams coming in. Mount Airy started Ryan Graham at No. 6 singles this time, but otherwise the lineups were the same. Graham’s presence in the lineup ended up not hurting the Bears, as he won his singles match and also teamed up for Mount Airy’s lone doubles point.
Things got off to an ominous start for the home team when Bishop’s Jimmy Dasher beat Kaleb Morrison at fourth singles for the first point of the match, 6-2, 6-0. Morrison had won this match when the teams met 19 days previously.
The Villains kept rolling after that. Sam McDonald beat Harrison Morris 6-1, 6-1 for a 2-0 lead. Emory Bray started undefeated and got Mount Airy on the board by beating Henry Kirby 7-5, 6-2 at No. 1 singles, and Graham came through as well, tying the match with a 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 1-0 (10-5) win over Bobby Peters.
The Bears had a chance to steal a point back at No. 3 singles, where Hunter Eaton hung in against Bishop’s formidable third seed Alex Chinnasami. Eaton had gotten double-bageled the first time time he faced Chinnasami, and when he went down 0-3 in set one on Tuesday, it looked like more of the same. However, he fought back to 4-5 before losing the first set and then rolled the Villain in set two, twice rallying from down 0-40 in games and winning the set 6-2. The tiebreaker was just as close, but Chinnasami won the last two points and took the match 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (10-7).
When Bishop’s Chris Muller finished the singles with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Owen Perkins at No. 5, the Villains were up 4-2.
Kirby and Dasher beat Bray and Morris 10-4 at No. 1 singles and the team match was over. Eaton and Graham scored two breaks in their No. 3 doubles match against Muller and Peters to win 10-5, but No. 2 seeds Morrison and Perkins struggled with their serve and were broken three times in a 10-8 loss to McDonald and Chinnasami.
The Bears now have a long layoff for spring break and will return to action at home on April 9 against Galax.