GALAX — In spite of not losing for three weeks, the Mount Airy tennis team tumbled from fifth to eighth in the latest N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association poll released Thursday, with one team the Granite Bears beat 9-0 now ranked in front of them.
Fortunately, such issues are rectified by postseason play. Mount Airy wrapped up the regular season on Thursday afternoon with a trip north of the border, where the Bears beat Galax 9-0 for the second time in 11 days.
Mount Airy, the runner-up in the Northwest 1A Conference to fourth-ranked Bishop McGuinness, needs every win to assure itself of a trip to the 1A state playoffs. The match was another dominant performance for the Bears (12-3 overall), who were only challenged by the Maroon Tide in the No. 2 doubles match, where Emory Bray and Ryan Graham teamed up for the first time this season and held off Landon Dickson and Isaac Hawks 10-8.
That match was a seesaw battle where Bray and Graham earned breaks to lead 7-4 and then 9-6, only to lose serve and have to hold at 9-8 to pull out the victory.
The teams actually played the doubles matches first, since Galax has just five courts at its facility. The long second doubles match was the last to finish. Harrison Morris and Hunter Eaton, playing No. 1 for the Bears, had a fairly easy time downing Noah Hutchens and Coleman Morgan 10-3. They won the first three games, but lost serve at 5-1 and 8-2 along the way before recovering for the decisive win. At No. 3, Kaleb Morrison and Owen Perkins played together. This match went back and forth, and they led William Patton and Luke Reeves 5-4 after nine games. At this point, the Bears took command and they won out to take the match 10-4.
The singles only had a few sets that were competitive. Morrison double-bageled Dixon at No. 4 to put Mount Airy up 4-0 in team points. Hunter Eaton, playing No. 3, nearly blanked Patton, clinching the match with a 6-0, 6-1 victory. Perkins finished up next, polishing off Hawks 6-2, 6-2 at No. 5. Bray had a bit tougher time at top of the lineup. He won the last three games of his first set against Hutchens, then went down a break before storming back for a 6-3, 6-3 win.
That left two matches on the courts. Morris, at No. 2 singles, dropped a break at Morgan at 2-2 in the opening set, but recovered with one of his own to lead 6-5 and then won the next game to take the set. He dominated set two and took the match 7-5, 6-1. Graham faced Reeves at No. 6 singles and won the first three games on his way to a set one win, and then traded breaks in set two before holding at 5-4 and winning 6-2, 6-4.
The NW1A gets just one automatic state playoff berth this season and the Villains claimed it, but the team’s overall record means that a wild-card invite is likely. They will find out next week if that’s forthcoming, but in the meantime, will get ready for the conference tournament that is also coming up next week.