As usual, the Northwest 1A Conference held its tennis tournament on the courts at Mount Airy High School, but the event turned into home away from home for the conference’s team champions, the Lady Cardinals of East Surry.
Although no East Surry players were seeded at the top of the bracket in either the singles or the doubles, it was the Lady Cardinals who swept the event, held Wednesday and Thursday evening. East will be represented by its championship teams in the West Regional, slated for Friday, Oct. 20 at Elkin Municipal Park, and two Mount Airy doubles teams will be part of that event as well.
The singles tournament culminated in a major upset. Throughout the regular season, Becky Auger of Bishop McGuinness had run roughshod over the competition from her No. 1 singles position. However, in the showdown between the Lady Cardinals and the Villains for the top overall seed on Monday, East’s Haley Jennelle stunned Auger after losing to her four times over the past two seasons. On Monday, Auger won the first set 6-1, but Jennelle stormed back for the win.
The Bishop standout was still the top overall seed for the tournament, and a heavy favorite, especially with her new nemesis entered in the doubles tournament. Her top competition included East Surry’s No. 2, Abigail Martin; her own teammate Michelle Petrangeli (seeded third, and the Villains’ No. 4 player in the regular season), and Alyssa Collins of North Stokes. Those four received byes in the opening round.
Most of the top players in the conference entered the doubles tournament, Auger being a notable exception. The Lady Bears’ top doubles team (and its top two singles players), Elizabeth and Meredith Marion, were the top seed in the doubles. East Surry’s top team of Jenelle and Sarah Mann, its No. 1 and 3 players, was seeded second. Mount Airy’s No. 2 doubles team of Olivia Perkins and Olivia Malone, unbeaten for much of the season, was third. And Bishop’s second doubles team of Lydia Cortes and Claire Rogers took the fourth seed and the last of the byes into the second round.
The entire singles tournament went as expected, except for one match. In round one, eighth-seeded Daphne Dotson of East Surry outlasted Lucy Patterson of South Stokes 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 and advanced to a date with Auger. No. 5 seed Ashtyn Myers of Mount Airy double-bageled Kareemah McQueen of Winston-Salem Prep. The Lady Bears’ Anna Kate Tucker, seeded seventh, beat South Stokes’ Ariel Haynes 6-2, 6-1. North Stokes’ Cynthia Collins double-bageled Prep’s Joycelyn Rouze in the 6 vs. 11 match.
Round two saw all four top seeds advance in straight sets. Auger downed Dotson 6-3, 6-1. Martin beat Tucker 6-1, 6-1. Petrangeli lost just one game in defeating Cynthia Collins 6-1, 6-0, but North Stokes’ Alyssa Collins topped Myers 6-0, 6-1.
The semifinals were chalk as well. Auger beat Alyssa Collins 6-2, 6-1, and Martin handled Petrangeli 6-2, 6-0, meaning that Bishop’s No. 1 would play East’s No. 2 for the title. After Petrangeli took third place by rallying to beat Alyssa Collins 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday, Martin pulled off the first and only upset of the tournament. After the two players went back and fourth to a tie in set one, Martin beat Auger in the tiebreaker and then went on to dominate the second set, winning 7-6 (7-4), 6-2. All of the top four will be in the regional, but Martin claimed the hardware.
There was one upset in the first round of the doubles. Hannah King and Hannah Fisher of South Stokes won out of the No. 9 spot, downing Lauren Collins and Grace Byerly of North Stokes for the right to play the top-seeded Marion sisters of Mount Airy.
Round two went as expected. The Marions started slowly against King and Fisher, losing serve at 3-3 but then winning the last nine games of the match to advance, 6-4, 6-0. Jennelle and Mann rolled to a 6-0, 6-2 win over Megan Standen and Olivia Kenedy of Bishop. The Lady Bears’ Perkins and Malone punched their regional ticket by outlasting Brianna Lester and Tessa Sprinkle of North Stokes, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1. The Villains’ Cortes and Rogers did the same with a 6-1, 6-2 win over fifth-seeded Haley Gilley and Lili Craven of East Surry.
Cortes and Rogers made things interesting in their semifinal with the Marion sisters. The Marions were broken at 2-4, but battled back to 5-6 and then held to force a set tiebreaker, only to lose it. Things got worse in set two, when Cortes and Rogers earned a break at 2-2, but the Lady Bear team refused to fold, eventually got the break back and led 6-5 when they earned a second on two take set two. In tournament play, a full third set is played, and the Marions won the first three games before each team broke the other. They won the match 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 6-2.
In the other semifinal, Jennelle and Mann had an early 4-1 lead on Perkins and Malone, but the latter rallied to 3-4 before the Lady Cards pulled away to win the match 7-5, 6-0.
The championship pitted the top teams from Mount Airy and East Surry. The Marions won both regular-season meetings, 8-3 and then 8-4. But it paid to be wearing red on Thursday. The Lady Bear team won a nip-and-tuck first set 6-4, but the rest of the match was all Cardinals. Jennelle and Mann won set two 6-2 and then held on to win set three 6-4.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.