Overall No. 1 seed Nick John breezed through Friday’s opening rounds and then defeated Elkin’s Tyler Macy in a three-set showdown for the Western title.
The Granite Bear’s top doubles team of Brooks Mayberry and Matt Kessler also had no problems during Friday’s matches but had to overcome two tough three-set matches to take the top spot in the western region.
The duo defeated Joe Riazzi and Kevin Weckworth of Bishop, who they also beat for the Northwest 1A/2A doubles title, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, then had to recover from a second set collapse to take down Evan Kirkland and Brad Calhoun of Hendersonville 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.
Mount Airy coach Scott John said he had seen his top players perform better than they did Saturday but that he was still rather pleased to see them find their way into the running for state championships.
“This is the first time we’ve won singles and doubles at the regional,” John said. “I don’t think either Nick or our doubles team played their best. As a coach you’d like to see them not play their best and still get through. I always tell them that you are only as good as you are on your worst days, so if you can beat people when you’re not playing your best it’s a sign that maybe you are a pretty good player. They can play better and I think if they do they will be even tougher to beat. That’s got to give them a lot of confidence.”
In the doubles regional final Mayberry and Kessler were up 5-2 in the second set serving with match point, then lost five straight points to give the win to Kirkland and Calhoun.
John said while he knows the duo can play at a higher level than what he saw Saturday, he was glad to see Mayberry and Kessler stay the course during a tough match.
“They were down, they didn’t panic and you could tell they were an experienced team,” John said. “They worked and tried to figure things out and they found something that did (work) and they were able to get through and get it done.”
As for singles, the younger John will face Macy on Tuesday in the Bears opening round team dual match against Elkin.
Coach John said he thinks the tough match his son pulled out against Macy on Saturday should put things in better perspective for Mount Airy’s singles title hopeful.
“It’s for keeps now,” John said. “It kind of rattled his cage and it showed him he’s going to have to play to go out and beat some of these people. He’s got some work to do between now and then. He’ll face him again Tuesday. We’ve got to refocus and get ready for Tuesday’s match against Elkin and I think it’s going to be a classic Mount Airy-Elkin match.”
The state individual tournament will kick off next Friday morning at the Cary Tennis Center and will conclude Saturday.
The Bears will host Elkin Tuesday afternoon in the first round of the state team dual tournament.
The Buckin’ Elks are the Mountain Valley Conference regular season and tournament champions.