DOBSON — After six years of Surry Central kicking the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference from pillar to post in women’s tennis, the Lady Eagles’ many victims knew that if they were ever going to beat them, this would be the year.
On Thursday evening, Central’s undisputed mastery of the WPAC finally ended when Forbush knocked off Central for the first conference loss by the Lady Eagles since the current players were in middle school. But let it be known that Surry Central, no matter how inexperienced this season, didn’t go down without a fight.
The undefeated Lady Falcons (3-0, 2-0 WPAC) ended the Lady Eagles’ 62-match conference winning streak with a 7-2 victory. This was accomplished by sweeping three tiebreaker sets in the singles matches after the players had split sets, and gave Forbush an unassailable 5-1 lead going to the doubles matches. The Lady Falcons won two of the three doubles for the final margin.
Nearly all of the matches were very close. Each team had one decisive win in the singles and Forbush won the No. 2 doubles match by six games. Everything else was up for grabs.
Both teams lost four of their six starters from 2018, but the difference was that the Lady Falcons retained the services of their top two players, while Surry Central (0-3) lost its top four and retained its Nos. 5 and 6 singles players. However, this didn’t faze the Lady Eagles’ Rachel Carter, who played No. 6 for last year’s 2A West Regional runners-up. Carter lost for the first time in her career earlier this week, but bounced back on Thursday to beat Megan Smith 6-2, 6-2 at No. 1 singles.
Forbush picked up a decisive win at No. 3, where Elei Ayers defeated Ellen Bryant 6-0, 6-2 in what was Bryant’s first career setback. The sophomore went 2-0 in seeded matches as a freshman and was 2-0 so far this season.
The rest of the singles matches went to the visitors. At No. 4, Ainsley Davis won two closely contested sets from Amelia Wilmoth, 6-4, 7-5. The others went to tiebreakers. At No. 2, Lindsay Ray won the first set before Mamie Smith roared back to take the second. In the tiebreaker, Ray finally pulled out the win, 6-3, 2-6, 1-0 (11-9). The No. 5 singles match was just as close. In that one, Central’s Olivia Whitaker won the opening set before the Lady Falcons’ Tatyana Hampton swept the second. Hampton pulled out the tiebreaker by two points to take that match 4-6, 6-0, 1-0 (10-8). At No. 6, the Lady Eagles’ Katelyn Crabb won the first set, then Forbush’s Abigail Lydick won the second and the tiebreaker, prevailing 2-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-6).
On the strength of eight points over three matches, Forbush had ended Central’s conference winning streak and taken the drivers’ seat for the 2019 WPAC title. But the doubles remained to be played.
In the showdown of the returning starters, the Lady Eagles got the win, with Carter and Smith edging Smith and Ray 8-6 at No. 1 doubles. The No. 3 doubles was just as close, but went to Forbush, as Hampton and Lydick snuck past Whitaker and Crabb 9-7. At No. 2, the Lady Falcons’ Ayers and Cortney Myers beat Bryant and Wilmoth 8-2.
Central will return to action on Tuesday at home against North Surry, the same day that Forbush travels to Walkertown.
Forbush’s Tatyana Hampton lost the first set at No. 5 singles on Thursday against Surry Central, but came back to win the match in a tiebreaker set.
The Lady Falcons’ Elei Ayers lost just two games in winning her No. 3 singles match on Thursday at Surry Central. Ayers and her teammates ended a 62-match conference winning streak for the Lady Eagles.
Surry Central’s Amelia Wilmoth lines up a shot on Thursday in the Lady Eagles’ No. 4 singles match against Forbush.
Surry Central’s Ellen Bryant tries to run down this shot on Thursday against Forbush.
The Lady Eagles’ Rachel Carter bounced back from her first career defeat by beating Forbush’s returning No. 1 singles player in Thursday’s match. Carter, who played No. 6 last year, lost just four games in the straight-set victory.