ELKIN — Emory Bray avenged his first loss of the season and earned a spot in the state championships in so doing. But the Mount Airy No. 1 singles player will now have to avenge another for any shot at claiming the title next week.
On Friday evening, Bray, who had lost to Bishop McGuinness’ Sam McDonald in the championship match for the Northwest 1A Conference, encountered McDonald again in the second round of the regional tournament in Elkin. Bray entered the regional as the fourth overall seed and downed Anthony Dotson of Pine Lake Prep in the first round, 6-3, 6-4. This meant a rematch with McDonald, in which only the winner would advance to the state meet. Bray earned a break to open the match, but then the lead seesawed back and forth as each player was able to break the other’s serve. Bray and McDonald split 12 games and then McDonald won a tiebreaker to take set one. Bray had actually served for the set at 5-4 and 6-5 but couldn’t hold either time. However, unlike a week ago, that was as far as the Villain went.
In set two, Bray was broken at 1-1, but then won the rest of the games and forced a third set. Again, he dropped a service game early but then came back and dominated, taking the lead at 2-1 and then breaking McDonald at 5-2 to take the match.
Mount Airy’s NW1A conference doubles championship team of Harrison Morris and Hunter Eaton were also competing on Friday, but came up one win short of a trip to Cary for the state finals. Morris and Eaton faced Levi Oliver and Kong Tous Moua of North Stanly. They lost a break in the very first game, but fought back to even the match at 3-3 and then hold serve to go ahead. They proceeded to win out and take set one. In set two, Oliver and Moua held their opening serve but little else, and Morris and Eaton earned a break at 5-2 to win the match 6-3, 6-2.
However, this forced them into a match with the second seed in the tournament, Polk County’s top team of Ryan and Henry Heider. Against the Heiders, the Bears held the opening serve but then lost breaks at 2-2 and 3-5 to drop the first set. In set two, they lost the first three games and didn’t so much as hold until after falling down 0-3. The Heiders won the match 6-3, 6-1.
On Saturday, Bray continued the tournament against Elkin’s No. 1 player, Ryan Macy. Macy, the 1A individual state champion as a sophomore in 2016, held at double break in the first game and blanked Bray in set one. The second set was a little more competitive, but it wasn’t Bray’s day against the homestanding Elks’ star, who won 6-0, 6-2.
However, Bray still had one more match to play to decide who would be a No. 3 seed and who would be a No. 4 in the individual finals. In his finale at the regionals, Bray routed Jackson Pitcher of Thomas Jefferson Academy 6-0, 6-1. Bray won the first nine games before losing serve, but then won out.
Bray will face the second seed from the East Regional on Friday, May 11 at the Cary Tennis Center.
On Tuesday, Mount Airy as a team will travel to North Stanly for the second round of the dual-team state playoffs.