KERNERSVILLE — The Mount Airy girls’ tennis team is squarely in the driver’s seat for a Northwest Conference championship.
There’s still plenty of matches to be played in 2016, but the Lady Bears (7-0, 2-0) are in sole possession of first place in the conference after Tuesday’s narrow 5-4 win over Bishop McGuinness (4-1, 2-1), the defending conference and state champions.
The decisive match came at No. 2 doubles, as Mount Airy’s Logan King and Elizabeth Bray faced Bishop’s Claire Rogers and Lydia Cortes. King and Bray opened up an 8-3 lead before the Villains’ duo came roaring back to win six straight games and hold a 9-8 advantage.
However, King and Bray fought back to force a 10-10 tie and a tiebreak to decide the winners of the doubles and overall team match. The Mount Airy pair staved off a match point and rallied to clinch things with an 11-10 (8-6) victory.
The Lady Bears and Villains split the six singles matches to set up the dramatic finish. Mount Airy got on the board first with a 6-1, 6-2 victory from No. 2 Bailey Jackson over Marion Sloyan.
Bishop responded and tied the overall score up when No. 1 Becky Auger defeated Mount Airy’s Elizabeth Marion 6-4, 6-3. The Villains then took the lead as Cortes, the fourth seed, earned a 6-4, 4-6, (10-5) win against Maya Hicks.
Mount Airy kept the back-and-forth affair going to tie the match at 2-2 with a win from King at No. 3. King earned a 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), (11-9) win over Rogers. Bray gave the Bears a brief 3-2 lead from her No. 6 position with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Megan Standen, but the Villains finished off the singles portion of the match with a 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 win from Kennedy Barber over Lisa Omuro.
The Villains struck first in doubles with an easy 10-5 win from the third-seeded pairing of Sloyan and Standen over Meredith Marion and Anna Kate Tucker.
However, that was the last win of the night for Bishop McGuinness as Mount Airy rallied for victory behind a 10-7 win from Elizabeth Marion and Jackson before the critical win from King and Bray.
Mount Airy will return to the courts on Wednesday with a home match against Surry Central.