The Granite Bears fell one tiebreaker shy of sweeping South Stokes in tennis Monday.
Mount Airy has sewn up second place in the Northwest Conference behind Bishop McGuinness.
The Bears conclude the regular season this afternoon at home against Surry Central. The Eagles are tied for third place with South Stokes, so the game carries big implications for the visiting team.
Against the Sauras, the Bears won five of six singles matches and all three doubles matches.
Top-seed Matt Kessler swept Brent Morse 6-0, 6-0. Second-seed Mitch Kessler beat Matt Childers 6-1, 6-2. Third-seed Eric Belton won over Ephraim Harrell 6-3, 6-1.
Fourth-seed Jordan Lawson went to a second-set tiebreaker to defeat J. Marshall 6-1, 7-6 (7-2).
The first time these teams met three weeks ago, the fifth seeds had the closest match of the day, and they did it again Monday. Robert Blizard fell in the first set 6-1 to Matt Chilton.
“Blizard rallied to win his second set in a tiebreaker,” said assistant coach Rodney Pell. That score was 7-6 (7-4). In the third set, Blizard lost 10-4. The first time they met, it was Blizard who won the tiebreaker 10-2.
At the final spot, Will Pfitzner beat Zane Washburn 6-1, 6-3.
Mount Airy has been solid all season with its top two doubles teams, but has struggled finding the right chemistry with the last spot. Four or five players have been tried in various combinations.
Coach Jim Reeves and Pell unveiled a new doubles lineup from top to bottom as the team looks ahead to the conference tournament and dual-team playoffs.
“The new combinations proved to be very successful,” said Pell.
A lot of teams look to have balance at the top two spots, Pell explained. Mount Airy had been using its first and third seeds as partners and its second and fourth seeds at the other spot. If you add their seedings, he explained, that means the first doubles team has a total of four, while the second team has a total of six.
The new lineup put the second and third seeds together while the first and fourth seeds were together — that gave the Bears a total of five at each spot.
Mitch Kessler and Belton won 8-1 over Morse and Harrell. Matt Kessler and Lawson won 8-3 over Childers and Marshall.
Pfitzner teamed with Blake Hensley, who had been the sixth seed until Pfitzner joined the starting lineup. The two teamed up for an 8-3 win over Chilton and Washburn. The last time the teams met, Chilton and Washburn won this spot 8-4.