NEW LONDON — North Stanly’s tennis team had enjoyed a perfect season up until Tuesday afternoon, but the Yadkin Valley Conference champions were no match for Mount Airy’s Granite Bears.
The Bears advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCHSAA 1A dual-team state playoffs with a 9-0 sweep of the Comets, a decisive victory over a team that had only lost more than two individual matches against one other opponent. On Tuesday, the Bears swept all six singles matches with only one player losing more than three games. The teams agreed to play the doubles although it wasn’t necessary, and Mount Airy swept those as well.
It was an ominous sign of things to come for the Comets (12-1) when fourth-seeded Kaleb Morrison blitzed Levi Oliver in a double-bagel win to put the visitors on the board. A while later, Harrison Morris won the first four out of five games in both sets against Dusty Billingsley at No. 2 singles and cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 win. Emory Bray, playing at the top of the lineup, was next to wrap up. The Comets’ Ye Wang broke him at 3-0 and 5-2 in the opening set, but Bray broke back to take it and then rolled in set two, scoring a break on the final game of a 6-3, 6-2 win that was the most competitive of the singles.
Hunter Eaton won the first three games of his No. 3 singles match with Dawson Hunt, then each held serve for the rest of the first set with Eaton prevailing. He rolled in the second set to win 6-2, 6-1 and make it 4-0 in favor of the Bears.
Owen Perkins, playing at No. 5, clinched the trip to the Elite Eight for his team. Up 2-1 on Austin Braunsberg in set one, Perkins scored successive breaks and won the set 6-1. In set two, the two players traded breaks after Perkins led 1-0, but then he got rolling again and won 6-1, 6-2.
Ryan Graham finished up the singles with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Kong Toua Moua at No. 6. Graham won the first three games of set one and four of of the first five in set two.
The teams decided to play doubles by mutual agreement, and there was finally some excitement at No. 1 doubles, where Bray and Morris held off Wang and Billingsley 9-7. They won the first three games, but then lost a break at 3-1 and another at 6-6, which put them in danger of losing the match had they not battled back with two successive breaks of their own. Morrison and Perkins had already shut out Hunt and Oliver 8-0 at No. 2 doubles. Eaton and Graham faced Braunsberg and Moua in the last match of the night. They were broken on the opening serve and again while serving for the win at 7-1, but broke back to win 8-2.
Mount Airy, now 13-3 on the season, will face either Elkin or Gray Stone Day on Monday in the quarterfinal round. The teams squared off on Tuesday which each sporting an identical 13-2 record.