HENDERSONVILLE — Mount Airy took home regional honors for both singles and doubles in this weekend’s tennis tournament.
The regional 1A semifinals and finals were held on Saturday.
In the singles semifinals, the Bears’ Matt Kessler was set to play Lake Norman Charter’s Davis Elkins, but the opponent withdrew due to illness, said Coach Rodney Pell.
The other semifinal featured Elkin’s Tyler Macy, last year’s regional champion, against Jacob Fuquay of the host school Hendersonville. Fuquay won in the morning, then had a chance to rest before facing Kessler later in the day.
Kessler broke Fuquay’s serve to take a 2-1 lead in the first set. The opponent broke him right back for a 2-2 tie.
Matt was unable to capitalize on a double break-point opportunity and fell behind 2-3, said Pell.
Fuquay would take another two games in a row for a commanding 5-2 lead before winning 6-3.
After being broken twice in the first set, Kessler would hold serve the rest of the way. He broke Fuquay’s serve two out of three games in the second set and two out of four games in the third set as he came back to win 6-1, 6-2.
This was Matt’s first regional singles title after winning the doubles title in 2010 and finishing second last year, the coach pointed out.
Kessler hopes to repeat 2010 where he and Brooks Mayberry followed up the regional championship with a state title.
He is 22-0 in singles play this year and will receive the top seed for the West in the state tournament in Cary next Friday and Saturday.
Younger brother Mitch Kessler was in the doubles semifinals with partner Jordan Lawson.
Kessler and Lawson won a decisive two-set match over Elkin’s Jeremiah Morrison and David Bullins 6-2, 6-1.
They advanced to the finals against Hendersonville’s Brackin Kirkland and Charles Colhoun. Mitch Kessler played against this team last year in the state semifinals with Eric Belton.
The Bears won a very close match last year, and this one was close all the way as well.
Hendersonville won the first three games and was up 4-1 in the first set before the Bears rallied with four straight wins to take a 5-4 lead.
Kirkland/Colhoun came back to win two straight games and had serve for a chance to finish the set. The Bears won to force a tiebreaker and then took that 7-3.
In the second frame, Kessler and Lawson won the first game and led at each changeover up to 5-4. Hendersonville won two games to go ahead, but the Bears again forced a tiebreaker. This time Kirkland/Colhoun won the first six points before the Bears won four straight. Then the home team came out on a top 7-4.
In the third set, the Bears again took an early lead, held serve throughout the set and were up 5-4 when they broke serve for the 6-4 clincher.
After losing to Bishop McGuinness last year in the finals, Mitch Kessler gets a top seed with Lawson at the state tournament.
The pair were 19-1 in doubles play this season.
“Throughout the tournament, Matt, Mitch and Jordan displayed a high level of play and determination,” said Pell.
Before the state individual tournament, the Bears have their next match in the dual-team playoffs.
They travel to Lake Norman to take on the charter academy in the second round. Matt Kessler will again be pitted against Davis Elkins, who withdrew Saturday.
Reach Jeff Linville at email@example.com or at 719-1920.