PARKERSBURG -Amber Kesterson and Jennifer Riffle made sure the Parkersburg tennis family did not leave them behind for the postseason.
In the finals of No. 3 doubles at Friday's Class AAA, Region IV tennis meet played at Erickson All-Sports Facility, the two juniors from Parkersburg High School qualified for next week's state tournament after defeating a pair from Huntington, 8-4.
It was less than 24 hours earlier that Kesterson as the No. 1 seed at No. 4 singles was knocked out in the quarterfinal round.
Photos by Kerry Patrick
Parkersburg senior Sloane Prince, far right, tries to make a point with tennis officials during her semifinal match at No. 1 singles Friday at Erickson All-Sports Facility. Prince placed second in her bracket at the Class AAA, Region IV meet.
"Thursday night was pretty disappointing for me, so the win in doubles made everything worth it," Kesterson said.
A total of six PHS entries qualified on the girls side, including Sloane Prince, Monika Keiser and Cassandra Powell in two events apiece. In the team standings, the Big Reds scored 21 points and placed runner-up to Huntington's 25.
"Even though some things didn't go our way, our players didn't let that bother them and they played far above their expectations," PHS coach Pam Reeves said. "With it being so hot and humid yesterday, they kept their calm and kept their cool. Today, they came out on fire. They were amazing today."
On the boys side, Huntington swept all four divisions in singles and all three doubles brackets while recording a perfect score of 28 points. PHS again finished in second place with 18 points as Matt Gnegy and Saaman Ghodsi both qualified in two events.
Gnegy played a total of four matches on his 18th birthday, including a consolation match with No. 1 doubles partner Ashton Whiteleather. They were opposed by Parkersburg South's Joe Holland and Brandon Galici in a scenario where the winner advanced and the loser stayed home.
Holland, who earlier defeated his second straight seeded player in No. 1 singles and eventually placed second overall as an unranked entry, experienced cramping in his lower back against the PHS duo which posted an 8-3 victory.
"Coming off the (four-hour rain delay in the morning) kind of affected my mental game a little bit and caught me off guard," Gnegy said. "But it's nice to qualify for states in both events on my birthday, and hopefully next week I can add on to the awards."
While Gnegy lost to Hurricane's Reid Bailey 9-7 in the consolation finals at No. 1 singles, Holland fell to Huntington freshman Hunter Tubert 8-1 in the championship match.
Also taking place at the same time down a few courts was the consolation match for No. 2 singles where Galici and Whiteleather opposed each other for the third time this season.
Galici, who came within one win of qualifying for state last year as a sophomore, won the rubber match against Whiteleather by an 8-5 count and punched his ticket for Charleston.
"It all started in seventh grade when I was at Blennerhassett and Ashton was an eighth grader at Jackson - I squeaked out a match for the county championship," Galici said. "Today, I just wanted to play really smart and I was able to keep the ball in play."
Ghodsi qualified at No. 3 singles by defeating Hurricane's Jordan Chapman 8-2 in the semifinals. The PHS freshman eventually lost to Huntington's Josh Clay 8-1 in the finals.
At No. 2 doubles, Ghodsi then joined forces with classmate Alexander D'Costa, who advanced by winning 8-4 against a team from Hurricane. In the finals, Ghodsi and D'Costa ran into a buzzsaw in the form of Huntington and lost 8-4.
Keeping their No. 2 doubles record intact for 2012 on the girls side were Powell and Shay Stansberry, who captured a championship by winning 8-5 against Huntington.
Earlier in the afternoon, Powell wrapped up a title at No. 2 singles by defeating Huntington's Kate Huck 8-1. For the tournament, the PHS sophomore gave up just three games in three singles matches.
"I'm playing some of the tennis I've played this season," Powell said.
Prince and Keiser advanced at No. 1 doubles, while Keiser made it in No. 3 singles by defeating South's Olivia Osborn 8-2 in the semifinals. Keiser then fell 8-5 to Huntington's Katelyn McGuffin in the finals.
After qualifying in No. 1 singles with a win in the quarterfinals on Thursday, Prince doubled up Cabell Midland's Gabriella Beam 8-4 then lost in the finals 8-0 to Huntington's Cassie Mercer.