PILOT MOUNTAIN — Mount Airy earned a first place for the tennis playoff brackets with a 5-3 win over Bishop McGuinness Thursday.
The two teams tied for top honors in the Northwest Conference, but in order to decide seedings for the dual-team playoffs, the girls faced off for a third time on a neutral court at East Surry.
The Lady Bears tied the Lady Villains with three wins each in singles.
Things didn’t look so rosy at one point. The Villains took three of the first four matches to conclude and led on another court. Four wins would mean that the Bears would have to sweep all three doubles matches to clinch.
At the third spot, Bree Hughes lost to Anna Owen 6-0, 6-1 to give the Villains the first team point.
Sixth seed Bailey Jackson came from behind to defeat Nicole Saia 6-4, 6-4 to even the score 1-1.
Jackson was ahead 2-0, but Saia won four of the next five games to take the lead. Then the freshman rebounded with three straight wins to finish the match.
Fifth seed Carley VanHoy lost to Anna Petrangeli 6-3, 6-2.
Some tension developed on Court One as Davi Barbour faced Kyndall Cortes.
Both girls lost just once in conference play, and that was to each other.
Barbour was up 3-1 in the first set and later 4-3, but Cortes won three straight to take a 6-4 set.
At 2-2 in the second set, Barbour hit a passing shot down the line that appeared to bounce about three inches inside the line.
Cortes called the ball out, drawing some derision from the Mount Airy parents outside the fence.
Barbour went on to lose that game and fell 6-3.
That made it 3-1 in favor of Bishop, with Haley Thomas a set down on Court Two.
Thomas won the first game against Morgan Auger, but lost four straight and fell 6-3 in the set.
Coach Scott Kniskern said he spoke to Haley several times on changeovers.
He told her that she was hitting the ball well, but just having a few tough breaks like balls catching the top of the net and falling on her own side of the court.
He said to keep playing the same way she was, and the breaks would come.
Late in the second set, fourth seed Jai Daniels finished off her win against Adaire Hudson and joined her teammates at the fence cheering on Thomas.
Daniels was up 4-1 in the first set and held on for a 7-5 set. Then she took the second 6-4, bringing the Bears to 3-2 overall.
With the crowd gathering, Thomas was down a break at 3-4 and came back to force a 6-6 tiebreaker and won 7-4. In the third set, Thomas won 10-5 to tie the match.
Haley and Carley were going to be the top doubles team, but they would have to wait to play, said Kniskern.
Darkness had arrived, and East Surry has just two lighted courts.
While Thomas rested, the second and third doubles teams went first.
Barbour and Jackson beat Auger and Lauren Andrysick 10-2. Hughes and Daniels beat Hudson and Petrangeli 10-5 to clinch the win.
With the match decided, the teams didn’t bother with the first doubles teams.
As the Northwest’s top seed, the Bears will host a wild-card team next week. Kniskern said he wouldn’t know exactly who that is until Monday.