The Lady Bears have five players returning to the regional playoffs after taking the top spots in the Northwest 1A Conference Tournament.
Reigning state champion Jordan Jackson won her semifinal and final matches by a combined 24-1.
The two doubles teams won their ways to the final again this year as Davi Barbour and Haley Thomas made it two conference titles in a row, taking their senior teammates in three sets.
The entire tournament went according to seeding except in the third-place doubles match where East Surry’s Lauren Thompson and Tiffany King pulled off a mild upset of North Stokes’ Rebecca Gunter and Mallie Ziglar.
Thompson and King faced Barbour and Thomas in the semifinals to start the second day. The Bears won 6-1, 6-1.
On the other side of the bracket, Jade Hughes and Elizabeth Dinkins dropped their first set before coming back for a 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 win over Gunter and Ziglar.
In the third-place match, Thompson and King took the first set 6-4, but fell behind 2-3 in the second.
They battled back to take a 5-4 lead with the senior Thompson encouraging her freshman teammate to stay positive.
Thompson showed a bounce in her step as she eagerly took the service line to finish out the last game for a 6-4 win that sends the pair to the 1A regional tournament next week.
In the doubles final, Barbour and Thomas took the first set 6-3, but Hughes and Dinkins came back to win a second-set tiebreaker 7-6 (7-5).
Last year at the state semifinals, Barbour and Thomas had a one-set lead on the East Montgomery team. Then they lost the second and third sets.
They were just sophomores and seemed to lose their composure, believed Coach Scott Kniskern.
When Hughes and Dinkins took the second set, Kniskern was curious to see how the juniors responded.
Barbour and Thomas roared back with a 6-1 third set to finish play at about 9:30 p.m.
They withstood the pressure this time and showed they have what it takes to make it to the state tournament again, the coach said. He believes both teams have the potential to be back in the regional finals against each other.
Making the state tournament seems a foregone conclusion for Jackson. She swept Bishop McGuinness’ Morgan Auger 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals, then took down Bishop’s top player, Kyndall Cortes, 6-0, 6-1.
East Surry’s Haley Manuel just missed making the regional field as she lost a close match to Auger.
In the semifinals, Manuel fell to Cortes 6-0, 6-0. Then Auger jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in the first set and won 6-3.
Manuel battled back in the second set and nearly forced a tiebreaker before losing 7-5 to finish fourth.
Jackson, Cortes and Auger advance to the regional tourney in Biscoe at East Montgomery High School. Matches begin at 2 p.m. on Oct. 19.
There will be two rounds on Friday and two rounds on Saturday, so the Bears are planning to spend Friday night in a hotel.