Mount Airy and Bishop McGuinness dominated the 1A side of the Northwest Conference tennis tournament Tuesday.
As expected, the Bears and Villains have the finalists for both the singles and doubles brackets.
The two squads have qualified 10 of their 12 players for the regional 1A playoffs.
In a repeat of last year’s title match, Mount Airy’s Matt Kessler looks to defend his crown against Bishop’s Naveed Foroudi. Foroudi was just a freshman last year when Kessler won 6-3, 6-0.
In the doubles finale, Matt’s brother Mitch Kessler teams with Jordan Lawson against Bishop’s Kevin Weckworth and Lane Kiser.
Weckworth, whose father is the team’s coach, appeared to suffer an arm injury on Tuesday and possibly may not be ready for the final.
Kessler/Lawson had the fastest match of the day in the opening round. They beat South Stokes’ Blake Embree and Dylan Fulp in about 18 minutes at 6-0, 6-0.
Weckworth/Kiser also swept through the opening round 6-0, 6-0 over the Sauras’ Tyler Bullins and Drew Hicks.
Mount Airy’s second doubles team of Taylor Bobbitt and Will Pfitzner won 6-2, 6-4 over East Surry’s Cody Moser and Cory Smith. The Bears duo was up 4-1 in the second set, but the Cardinals tried to rally, winning three of the next four games before succumbing.
East’s other doubles team of Brody Gentry and Andrew Zachman fell 6-1, 6-1 to Bishop’s Conor Wilson and Michael Domabyl.
Kessler/Lawson dropped the first game to Wilson/Domabyl, then roared back with six straight games to take the first set. They won the second set by a similar 6-1 mark to advance to the finals.
Weckworth/Kiser had a harder road as Bobbit/Pfitzner pushed them to the day’s only third set.
The Villains swept the first set 6-0, but the Bears fought back and forced a 6-all tiebreaker in the second set. The Bears won the tiebreaker 7-4, but Bishop pulled out the third set 6-2.
Bobbitt/Pfitzner will face Wilson/Domabyl in the third-place match today.
On the singles side, Matt Kessler swept Bishop’s Zack Jones 6-0, 6-0, while Foroudi beat Bear freshman Justin Leonard 6-0, 6-1.
The match looked one-sided, but Justin had a couple of winnable games that slipped away which would have made the score closer, noted Mount Airy Coach Rodney Pell.
East Surry’s Tyler Yandell won 6-1, 6-2 over South Stokes’ Matt Chilton to advance to face Foroudi.
In the longest match of the day, South Stokes’ Ephraim Harrell needed more than an hour to take down East Surry’s fifth seed, Austin Johnson. The Cardinal played one of his best matches of the year in hanging with the favored player before falling 6-3, 6-4.
Kessler was pacing the outside of the courts by the end of the match, saying he was anxious to play and move on to the finals.
Once on the court, Kessler did move on quickly, beating Harrell 6-1, 6-0.
On the other side, Yandell and Foroudi replayed their semifinal match of a year ago. Yandell hung close in the first set; he was down just 5-4 before losing 6-4. He had a 40-15 lead in his first service game of the second set, but Foroudi came back to break his serve and win the set 6-1.
Yandell and Harrell will meet in the third-place match today.
The championship matches are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. today with third-place matches at about 5:45 p.m.