PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry’s tennis team wasn’t able to achieve its goal of upsetting the Lady Bears, but the girls at least had the distinction of making the state’s top-ranked 1A tennis team fight for it.
And fight for it, Mount Airy did.
In a match that pitted the No. 1 and No. 6 ranked teams in the latest N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association poll, the Granite Bears pulled out a 6-3 victory on the East Surry courts by just a few points in a pair of match tiebreakers that gave them a 4-2 edge in the singles matches.
Mount Airy’s victory hinged on the outcomes of the Nos. 1 and 6 singles. Had East Surry won the tiebreakers in each, they would have pulled off the upset.
The match opened with the Lady Cardinals surprisingly moving into a 2-1 lead. Lisa Omuro won the No. 5 singles 6-1, 6-1 over Mikayla Manuel to put the Lady Bears in front, but East answered with two wins of its own. Sarah Mann defeated Maya Hicks 6-0, 6-2 at No. 4, and then the home team led 2-1 after Abigail Martin beat Logan King 6-4, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.
The next to wrap up was the No. 1 singles match, where the Lady Bears’ Bailey Jackson won the last five games of set one against Haley Jennelle, but got routed in the second set and was down 5-1 in the tiebreaker before winning eight of the next nine points and eventually pulling out a 6-2, 1-6, (10-7) victory. Not long afterwards, Elizabeth Marion, back in the lineup after a week’s absence due to injury, claimed a 6-2, 6-0 win over Klaudia Tucker at No. 2.
The other key match came at No. 6, the final singles match to conclude. In that one, Elizabeth Bray lost the first set to Carson Payne and trailed 3-2 in the second one before winning out. She took the lead early in the tiebreaker and prevailed 2-6, 6-3, (10-6).
Mount Airy clinched the team victory when King and Bray wrapped up the No. 2 doubles, 11-9 over Tucker and Manuel, in another match that was every bit that close. However, not everything would go the Lady Bears’ way. At No. 1 doubles, Jennelle and Martin trailed 7-4, but then broke Jackson and Marion four consecutive times and earned an 11-9 win of their own. Hicks and Omuro completed the match with an 8-4 victory over Mann and Payne at No. 3 doubles.
With the win, Mount Airy (12-1, 5-0 Northwest Conference) has now beaten four of the other nine teams in the latest 1A poll, having previously downed No. 3 Bishop McGuinness, No. 5 Elkin, No. 6 East Surry, and No. 9 East Wilkes.
The Lady Bears host North Surry today.
Mount Airy 8, East Wilkes 1
On Monday evening, the Lady Bears hit the road and came away with a victory over East Wilkes in Ronda.
Mount Airy was never in any danger of losing the match, but its 8-1 margin of victory could have easily been closer — the Lady Bears pulled off victories in the Nos. 5 and 6 singles matches in third-set tiebreakers. On the other hand, the team lost the No. 1 doubles match in the same manner, or else this could have been a shutout.
The loss came after Bailey Jackson and Meredith Marion had built a 6-3 lead over Maddi Lester and Brie Jarvis and appeared to be on their way to victory. However, they proceeded to drop three straight service games and actually had to break back to force a tiebreaker, but lost it 7-1.
The closely contested singles matches were an odd lot. At No. 6, Marion pummeled Leah Nance 6-1 in the first set, but then lost all of her service games and was blanked in set two. She came from behind in the tiebreaker to win 6-1, 0-6, (10-8). That win put the Lady Bears on top 3-0, after No. 2 Logan king had made short work of Kari Hodges, 6-3, 6-1, and then Jackson had done the same to Lester, 6-3, 6-0.
Maya Hicks won her No. 3 singles match 6-4, 6-1 over Jarvis to make it 4-0, and Lisa Omuro beat Kinsey Crabb 6-1, 6-3 at No. 4 to secure the team win. In the final singles match on the court, Elizabeth Bray rallied to win the first set, but then lost the second set and needed a tiebreaker, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), (10-7) to beat Abby Reeves at No. 5.
At No. 2 doubles, King and Bray defeated Hodges and Reeves 8-5, and Hicks and Omuro downed Crabb and Nance 8-2 at No. 3.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.