CHARLESTON -Parkersburg High and Williamstown's representatives got off to a strong start as the West Virginia State High School Tennis Tournament began its three-day run on Thursday in the state capital.
Start with Parkersburg High, which is contending for team titles in both the Class AAA boys and girls divisions.
The Big Red boys had a perfect opening day as No. 1 singles player Saaman Ghodsi won both his matches -defeating Alex Beam of Cabell Midland, 8-3, and then downing Will Wheatley of Washington, 8-4, in the quarterfinal round. That puts him in today's semifinal round against Hunter Tubert of Huntington, who has a career mark of 71-0.
Parkersburg's No. 2 singles player, Alexander D'Costa, earned an opening-round bye and then defeated Jacob Buckland of Shady Spring, 8-2, to advance to the semifinals against Huntington's Campbell Neighborgall.
Tristram Spitsnaugle, who mans the No. 3 singles position, opened with an 8-1 win over Nick Oxendale of Oak Glen and will meet Austin Preece of -you guessed it, Huntington -in today's semifinal round.
Josh Roberts, Parkersburg's No. 4 player, will open play today in the semifinal round in yet another PHS-Huntington match against Charles Jenkins.
Doubles play will get under way today with Ghodsi and D'Costa representing PHS at No. 1 and Rhone Thrash and Landon Wells playing in a semifinal at No. 3.
The Big Red girls have a pair of singles players still competing.
No. 1 Cassandra Powell won a pair of matches on Thursday, defeating Lauren Chambers of Logan, 8-3, and Emily Munson of Ripley, 8-0, and will meet Mountain State Athletic Conference and defending state champion Cassie Mercer of Huntington in today's semifinal round. At No. 3, Sheridan White opened with an 8-0 win over Ripley's Brooke King and will meet Rachel Subik of -wait for it -Huntington. No. 2 player Amber Kesterson put up a valiant battle before falling to Vivian Yao of Huntington, 8-6.
All three of Parkersburg's doubles team will compete today. At No. 1, Powell and Kesterson opened with an 8-1 win over a Logan duo and will meet a team from George Washington in the quarterfinal round. At No. 2, Katie Stanley and Katie Gnegy will meet Ripley's Tyler Barickman and Arin Shatto in the quarterfinals while at No. 3, Kristen Calebaugh and Jennifer Riffle will play a semifinal match against a team from Hurricane.
Parkersburg South's only representatives, No. 1 singles player Brandon Galici and No. 3 Grant Tebay, both were eliminated on Thursday as Galici dropped his opening round match to Zach Hatfield of Logan, 8-5, and Tebay suffered an 8-1 setback to Nick Koenig of George Washington.
In Class AA-A, the Williamstown boys team has two singles and two doubles teams still competing. At No. 1 singles, Luke Flanagan advanced to the semifinals with an 8-4 win over Jonathon Haley of Wheeling Central and an 8-1 victory over Bluefield's Justin Friend. Flanagan will meet Max Meade of Huntington St. Joseph in the semifinals. At No. 2 singles, Aaron Leo defeated Brett Szeligo of Wheeling Central, 8-1, and Orry Brooks of Lincoln, 8-6, and will meet Josh Tarin of Bluefield in today's semifinal round.
At No. 1 doubles, Flanagan and Leo defeated a team from Fairmont Senior and will meet a team from Lincoln in the quarterfinal round. At No. 2 doubles, Ryan Leo and Alex Gedon also will compete in the quarterfinals, against a team from Bridgeport.
In girls competition, Ritchie County and Ravenswood are one point out of first. At No. 1 singles, Ritchie County's Veronica Mueller won a pair of matches to advance to today's semifinals. At No. 2, both Ritchi's Olivia Hugaht and Ravenswood's Taylor Youell are semifinalists, while Ravenswood's Bess McNabb is in the final four at No. 3. At No. 1 doubles, Mueller and Haught and McNabb and Youell advanced to the quarterfinals.
All state finals matches are set for Saturday..