Brilliant sunshine gave way to gray skies late Tuesday during Polk County’s key conference match with Mountain Heritage.
Which, in many ways, summed up the first two days of the week for the Wolverines.
A 5-4 loss to Owen on Monday all but ended Polk County’s bid for a Western Highlands Conference regular-season title. Mountain Heritage officially snuffed those hopes on Tuesday, taking a 6-3 win over the Wolverines.
It has been a turnaround season for a Polk County program that couldn’t even field a full team two years ago. But pride in the accomplishments of this season, well-deserved and hard-earned pride, will wait for another day for the Wolverines (7-7, 5-3).
“Second is OK, but it’s not where we wanted to be,” said Polk County head coach Richard Davis. The Wolverines are assured of at least a tie for second in the WHC and will be runners-up alone if Mountain Heritage defeats Owen next week.
“It’s always disappointing in that you want to finish first, and we really thought this might be the year we could do it. I guess we’ll lick our wounds and be happy with being second.”
Mountain Heritage assured itself of sole possession of first place with a strong singles performance, winning four of the six matches. None were better than the battle at No. 1, where Polk County’s Tyler Oxtoby and Mountain Heritage’s Robin Stith squared off in a matchup of the league’s top two players.
Stith roared to an 8-3 lead before Oxtoby fought back, battling to win four straight games and make it 8-7. But Stith began to find the range with his lob, turning aside every Oxtoby charge to the net with a series of perfectly-placed shots that allowed him to win the final three games and take a 10-7 win.
Oxtoby and Henry Monts earned a measure of revenge at No. 1 doubles, routing Stith and Chandler Garland 6-0.
“Mountain Heritage is probably a couple of players better than us, and it showed,” Davis said. “At least I can rest in peace and say we had a good year.”
The Wolverines host Kings Mountain on Wednesday in their regular-season finale before next week’s WHC tournament at Avery.
1. Robin Stith (MH) d. Tyler Oxtoby 10-7; 2. Payton Stott (PC) d. Chandler Garland 10-8; 3. Henry Monts (PC) d. Trevor Parker 10-6; 4. Sho-Go Onta-Weir (MH) d. Alec Becker 10-1; 5. Ben Perveral (MH) d. Rustin Muse 10-6; 6. Pablo Rossi-Evans (MH) d. Malik Miller 10-3
1. Oxtoby/Monts (PC) d. Stith/Garland 6-0; 2. Parker/Onta-Weir (MH) d. Stott/Becker 6-3; 3. Perveral/Rossi-Evans (MH) d. Muse/Miller 6-3