The 2016 Northwest Conference tennis season will be remembered as a dominant one for the Mount Airy Granite Bears.
Mount Airy clinched the league’s top seed in the NCHSAA playoffs with a 5-4 win over Bishop McGuinness on Monday, and the Bears kept the good vibes rolling on Wednesday, winning one conference tile in a wrecking ball fashion and were potentially on their way to another when the weather intervened.
Play didn’t get started until 5 p.m. after a one-hour rain delay, but the late start didn’t derail Mount Airy’s Hunt Harrison.
Harrison, Mount Airy’s No. 1 during the regular season, breezed through the competition en route to a singles title on Wednesday. The win was no surprise, as Harrison entered the tournament as the top seed.
However, Harrison Morris and Gentry Williamson rattled off an upset on Wednesday to earn a spot in the doubles championship. The Granite Bear duo had not played a competitive match this season together, but they meshed well over the two-day event to reach the championship match.
Williamson and Morris had their work cut out for them in the semifinals, taking on Bishop McGuinness’ No. 1 doubles team of Adam Chinnasami and Lance Dittrich. The Villains’ duo had a 4-3 lead in the first set before Williamson and Morris rallied for a 6-4 win.
In the second set, Chinnasami and Dittrich refused to back down and won four of the first five games before evening the match with a 6-3 win. That second-set win only motivated Williamson and Morris, who made quick work of the third set and clinched a trip to the final with a 6-2 win. The final score of the match was 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in favor of the Bears.
The final was another matchup between Bears and Villains, but some nighttime thunderstorms suspended the match until Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Williamson and Morris were tied at 5-5 against Bishop’s Ivo Pestana and Henry Kirby when the rain arrived. The Bears were up 5-2 before dropping three straight games.
Dittrich and Chinnasami earned a 6-1, 6-3 victory in the third-place match to clinch a spot in the regionals.
Harrison cruised in both of his Wednesday matches. The Mount Airy sophomore started things off with a double-bagel 6-0, 6-0 win over Atkins’ Josh Woodard in the semifinal.
Things were only slightly more difficult for Harrison in the title match, defeating Atkins’ Dillon Jennings with a 6-0, 6-1 victory. Harrison only lost two games throughout his three match victories in the tournament.
Mount Airy freshman Emory Bray lost in the semis to Jennings, but he got redemption in the third-place match against Woodard. Bray cruised with a 6-2, 6-2 win, and he too will be in the regional tournament.
Mount Airy now looks forward to the culmination of the doubles title, but also the brackets for both the individual and dual-team tournaments that will be released on Monday. The dual-team playoff starts the following day, and the regionals will take place next weekend at Elkin High School.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16