If one only considers traditional schools, then the Mount Airy Granite Bears men’s tennis team was almost certainly the best 1A team in the state during the 2018 season.
The Bears ran up a 15-4 record during the season, with three losses to the two of the other teams that were atop the 1A West all season (Lincoln Charter and Bishop McGuinness) and a loss to Reagan, the champions of the Central Piedmont 4A Conference. Mount Airy finished as runner-up to Bishop in the Northwest 1A Conference and to Lincoln in the West Regional.
The Bears held their awards dinner on Saturday in the high school commons area, where the regional runner-up trophy was officially presented. Several other awards were given to members of the team, starting with eight who received participation awards: Emory Bray, Hunter Eaton, Ryan Graham, Luke Kirkman, Harrison Morris, Kaleb Morrison, Owen Perkins, and Alex Bowers (absent).
Six players earned All-Conference honors: Bray (4-0 singles, 3-1 doubles); Eaton (2-2 singles, 3-1 doubles); Graham (2-0 singles, 3-0 doubles); Morris (2-2 singles, 3-1 doubles); Morrison (3-1 singles, 2-2 doubles); and Perkins (2-2 singles, 2-2 doubles). Bray was named as the Conference Player of the Year.
Eaton and Morris received championships medals for winning the conference doubles tournament. Bray was recognized for participating in the individual state championship tournament.
Head coach Rodney Pell announced the following team awards: Luke Kirkman (Coaches’ Award), Ryan Graham (Most Improved) (8-3 singles, 11-0 doubles), Hunter Eaton (110%) (15-3 singles, 18-3 doubles), and Emory Bray (Most Valuable) (19-6 singles, 12-4 doubles).
The team went a perfect 6-0 against county rivals, posted nine shutouts, won eight straight matches at one point in the season, and won three state playoff matches, one over a team that had previously been undefeated. The Bears ended the season as the fifth-ranked 1A team in the NC Tennis Coaches’ Association poll.
The team will be recognized at the Mount Airy City Schools Board of Education meeting at MAHS tonight at 6:30 p.m.