Normally, when a 1A team takes on a 4A team, especially a good 4A team, they’ll end up taking a loss no matter how well they play.
Most 1A teams aren’t the caliber of the Mount Airy tennis team, however.
The Granite Bears hosted Reagan High School on Thursday evening in a final tune-up before making their postseason run, and impressively dusted off the playoff-bound Raiders of the Central Piedmont 4A with an 8-1 victory.
Mount Airy (18-2 overall), the Northwest 1A Conference co-champions along with Bishop McGuinness, lost only at the No. 5 singles, one of four matches that either went to a tiebreaker set or extra points. In that match, Grey Tucker rallied from a loss in the first set to force a tiebreaker against Reagan’s Vignesh Gopalan, but was nipped 2-6, 6-3, (10-8) in the tiebreaker.
The loss didn’t really matter, though. It was the last of the singles matches to be completed, and the Bears won all of the others.
Hunt Harrison led things off, taking down Ethan Evans 6-2, 6-4 at No. 1 singles in the first match to be wrapped up. Emory Bray polished off his No. 4 singles match next, beating Nick Rieker 6-4, 6-4 despite losing serve once in each of the sets. Mount Airy made it 3-0 in the team score when Harrison Morris, back in the lineup at No. 2 singles after missing two matches, defeated Quinten Cooper 6-4, 6-2.
At No. 3 singles, Gentry Williamson lost two services games but earned three breaks in his first set for a 7-5 set win, and it was a good thing for him after the Raiders’ Billy Zhu whipped him 6-3 in the second set. The Bears’ lone senior starter regained his focus and routed Zhu 10-1 in the tiebreaker set to make it 4-0 in favor of Mount Airy.
The Bears locked up the team win when Hunter Eaton downed George Dallis in yet another split-set match. Eaton blew a 5-2 lead in the opening set of his No. 6 singles match, eventually losing on a tiebreaker, but came back to hammer Dallis in the second set, winning the last five games and then the tiebreaker set for a 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, (10-7) victory.
Mount Airy struggled early in all three of the doubles matches, but rallied to win all of them. At No. 3 doubles, Tucker and Owen Perkins surrendered four service breaks to Gopalan and Dallis and trailed 6-3, but then won six out of seven games for a 9-7 victory. Williamson and Bray trailed 6-5 at one point in their No. 2 battle with Zhu and Rieker, but then won two service breaks and prevailed 8-6. The final match on the court was the No. 1 doubles, where Harrison and Morris seemed to be in control at 5-3 before coughing up a service break to Evans and Cooper. But the duo recovered, got the service break back, and prevailed 8-5.
The Bears will play Bishop a third time on Monday evening at 4 p.m. at East Surry High School in order to determine which of the teams will receive the top seed from the NW1A in the playoffs. The conference tournament will follow on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the matches at Mount Airy.