Barring a late-season collapse, the top-ranked girls’ tennis team in the state will also be tops in the Northwest Conference for 2016.
Mount Airy completed its first season sweep of league rival Bishop McGuinness since 2013 on Thursday afternoon, defeating the Villains 6-3 in a match that was only a handful of points from being a 9-0 sweep. The Lady Bears (16-1, 7-0 NW1A) won four of the nine matches decisively, but lost two of the three singles matches that went to a match tiebreaker and also split two close doubles matches.
Things started off well for Mount Airy. No. 2 seed Elizabeth Marion made quick work of Marion Sloyan for the first team point of the match, 6-1, 6-1. It took Elizabeth Bray only a little longer to prevail over Candyce Sturgeon at No. 6 by an identical score.
The rest of the matches took a bit longer to resolve.
The next one to be completed was the No. 3 singles, where the Lady Bears’ Logan King had won her first set over Claire Rogers, but seemed out of sync in the second set and got blanked. In the tiebreaker set, King came back from three points down to tie the score at 8, but then dropped the last two points and the match, 3-6, 6-0, (10-8).
The No. 5 singles was a similar tale, as Lisa Omuro beat Kennedy Barber in the first set but then struggled the rest of the way, eventually falling 2-6, 6-3, (10-4) as Bishop tied the match.
The first meeting between the teams, in Kernersville on Aug. 30, had come down to just a few points, and this one looked to be more of the same. The script held true at No. 1 singles, where Mount Airy’s Bailey Jackson lost her first three games, but battled back strongly, at one point breaking Becky Auger in a game where she hit four consecutive outstanding shots to pull within 3-2. After winning on serve and gaining another break, she led 5-3 before Auger finally took another game from her. Jackson then pulled the set out and won the first game of the second set, but faltered after that and ended up in a match tiebreaker, where she won six of the first eight points and walked off a 6-4, 3-6, (10-7) victor.
The last match left on the court was a closely contested battle between Maya Hicks and Lydia Cortes at No. 4 singles. Hicks came back down 2-3 down to win the first set 6-4, then trailed 1-2 in the second before winning 6-3 in a match that featured many long points between the two. When Hicks pulled it out, the Lady Bears were up 4-2 in the team count and needed just one doubles victory.
Hicks and Omuro gave them that shortly after 8:15 p.m., winning the last eight games of the No. 3 doubles over Barber and Sturgeon for a 10-3 victory. Bray and King fell behind 6-1 at No. 2 doubles against Sloyan and Cortes and ended up losing for the first time all season. They went down fighting, winning four straight games to get back into the match, but were never able to get back a service break and lost 10-8.
Jackson and Marion were the final team on the court, finishing up at No. 1 in a back-and-forth battle with Auger and Rogers where they trailed twice, but came on strong at the end, finally winning 10-8 with a break in the last game.
Bishop fell to 8-3 overall and 5-3 in conference play. The Villains had been defeated 5-4 by East Surry in their last match before facing the Lady Bears again. All three teams are ranked among the state’s top eight 1A teams.
Mount Airy will return to action on Tuesday, when it visits North Stokes.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.