Mount Airy beat East Wilkes 6-3 to advance to the second round of the state 1A dual-team tennis playoffs.
The Bears got a strong performance from its top three players and a gutsy win from a sixth seed struggling with an aching back to take singles play 4-2. Then the Bears won two of the doubles matches with an injury forfeit in the third.
These two teams met in Ronda on April 11. The score was 6-3 then, too, but the singles matches were split.
Jordan Lawson needed a third-set tiebreaker to pull out a win at the third spot in the first meeting, but he took care of business 6-3, 6-0 in the rematch with Luke Sealey.
He still didn’t finish as quickly as Mitch Kessler, who tore through Calvin Macemore 6-0, 6-0 just as most of the other matches were finishing the first set.
Brother Matt Kessler wasn’t far behind in winning 6-1, 6-0 over Christopher Shew at the top seed.
Fourth-seed Justin Leonard dropped the first five games against Corey Osborne, but rallied with back-to-back wins before losing the set 6-2. He was down just 1-2 when Osborne ran off the last four games for the set and match 6-1.
Similarly, fifth-seed Taylor Bobbitt got off to a slow start with Greylin Cleary.
Cleary took four of the first five games before the senior made a good push of his own. Bobbitt took three of the next four games to close to 4-5 before losing the set in the next game. Cleary would take the second set 6-3 to bring the team score to 3-2 in favor of the Bears.
The sixth seeds were the last ones playing in singles. A win would give the Bears a big margin at 4-2, but a loss would tie the teams.
Will Pfitzner won the first three games and took the first set 6-1. At times throughout the second set, however, he rubbed his lower back and grimaced when making athletic plays.
He fought his way to a slight lead at 3-2, then 4-3 and 5-4. In the 10th game he was ahead on his serve 40-15 with two match points.
Alvin Sales then won four straight points to break Pfitzner and tie the match 5-5. At 6-6, the two went into a set tiebreaker.
Pfitzner was up 3-2, then lost the next two points to go down 4-3. However, he took four of the next five points to win 7-6 (7-5).
As soon as the sixth seeds were finished, the top two doubles pairs began warming up as clouds threatened.
Matt Kessler and Bobbitt quickly jumped out to a 5-0 lead before rain halted play for half an hour.
When play resumed, the pair finished off Macemore and Osborne 10-0 to secure the team victory.
Mitch Kessler and Lawson beat Shew and Sealey 10-2 in the other doubles match.
Pfitzner tried to play his doubles match with Leonard and was actually ahead 3-2 on Cleary and Sales when he was forced to retire.
The Bears advance to play at Lake Norman Charter, which received a first-round bye, on Tuesday in the second round.
Before that, however, five of the Bears are set to participate in the regional 1A individual tournament in Hendersonville Friday and Saturday.
Matt Kessler (18-0 in singles play) will play singles. Mitch Kessler and Lawson are 16-1 as doubles partners and will compete together. Should Pfitzner be ready, the senior will team with Bobbitt in doubles; having never played together before the conference tournament, the duo has a team record of just 2-1.
Reach Jeff Linville at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1920.