Lady Bears knock East Wilkes from tennis playoffs
by Jeff Linville Staff Reporter
The Mount Airy tennis team advanced to the third round of the state 1A dual-team playoffs with a 6-0 sweep of East Wilkes.
The Lady Bears are just two wins away from a return trip to the state championship match.
The visiting Cardinals came in with an impressive 15-4 record, but two of those losses were to the Bears by 9-0 scores.
“I was very happy with (our) performance,” said Coach Scott Kniskern. Considering that the Bears had found good success against East Wilkes previously, the coach was worried about a letdown.
He noted that four of his top five seeds were coming off two matches in the 1A West Regional tournament the night before at West Stokes.
Davi Barbour and Haley Thomas won the doubles regional title, while Bree Hughes and Carley VanHoy finished fourth.
If fatigue was there, it didn’t show in the scores as the Bears won all six matches in straight sets.
Barbour beat Shanisha White 6-0, 6-1. Thomas topped Molly Callaway 6-2, 6-0. Hughes swept Kennedy Lester 6-0, 6-0.
VanHoy beat McKenzie Stokes 6-3, 6-3 in the closest match of the afternoon.
Fourth seed Jai Daniels won 6-1, 6-1 over Kayla Pardue.
Sixth seed Bailey Jackson won 6-1, 6-0 over Abby Burchette.
Those six wins gave the Bears (17-2) the team victory without the need for doubles play.
Only four schools are left in the western half of the state, and the teams are familiar with each other.
The Bears face East Montgomery, whom they have seen in individual and dual-team playoffs the past few years.
In the other western semifinal, Bishop McGuinness takes on Gray Stone Day, a team Mount Airy beat on the way to the state title last year.
These four schools had plenty of representation at the regional tournament over the weekend.
East Montgomery’s whole top six was there, noted Coach Scott Kniskern.
Bree and Carley beat East Montgomery’s second doubles and lost to its top doubles team in third-place match, he said.
East Montgomery’s top seed and fourth seed both lost in the second round of the singles tournament.
While doubles play doesn’t exactly relate to singles play, it does give the girls some idea of how the opponent plays.
“They are going to be tough, they always are,” said Kniskern.
Mount Airy is 17-2, and East Montgomery 17-1, so the Bears will have to make the two-hour drive Monday for the 4 p.m. start.
Before then, however, the two doubles teams will take part in the 1A state tournament this Friday and Saturday.
The quarterfinals and semifinals will be Friday, starting at 9 a.m. Then the finals will be Saturday at 9 a.m. in Cary.
If the Bears win on Monday, then Mount Airy would host either Bishop or Gray Stone Day next Wednesday in the West regional championship.
On the eastern side of the bracket, perennial powers Raleigh Charter and Franklin Academy are still alive and could face off in the East regional title match.
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