PARKERSBURG -Several members of the Parkersburg girls tennis team are living the dream for the first time as the state tournament begins today in Charleston.
Sydney Stansberry needed a win in the consolation finals at No. 2 singles during last week's regional meet to secure her first trip to the state.
"Because of my older sister (Shay Stansberry), I have an idea what state is like," Stansberry said. "Ever since I saw her win a state championship when I was in seventh grade, that's all I ever wanted. I'm trying to get to my goal there."
Photo by Kerry Patrick
Parkersburg junior Katie Gnegy hits a forehand during her No. 3 singles match at last week’s regional meet. Gnegy qualified in both singles and at No. 2 doubles for this week’s state tournament in Charleston.
The concept of a state tournament is practically new to teammate Verena Hohe, who is a foreign exchange student from Germany playing No. 3 doubles with Ashley Casto.
"(PHS coach Pam Reeves) had to explain it to me like a thousand times what regionals and states were," Hohe said. "I finally started to understand everything, but I couldn't explain it to my parents. They were like, 'What is regionals?'
"We have a team in Germany with only four girls. There are no high school sports. It's a club sport and we don't see each other that often and don't practice every day. I love playing for this team because every day you come here for practice and on weekends you have games."
On the strength of a pair of regional titles last week at Erickson All-Sports Facility, PHS will be represented in all four singles and three doubles divisions for both the boys and girls.
Parkersburg South's chances rest on two individuals in its top singles players Grant Tebay and Garrett Dailey, who also qualified at No. 1 doubles.
Ripley features a strong contingent on the girls side with five of the seven entries filled. Playing singles for the Vikings are their top three players Arin Shatto, Tyler Barickman and Brooke King. Shatton and Megan Frampton qualified at No. 1 doubles, while King and Barickman will compete at No. 2 doubles.
In Class AA/A, Parkersburg Catholic will send six entries into action with all four singles players Audrey Eisenmann, Erica Tracewell, Kate Clowes and Jillie Wiseman. Tracewell and Eisenmann will hook up at No. 1 doubles, while Wiseman and Clowes qualified at No. 2 doubles.
Last year, the PCHS failed to send a player to state.
"These girls started playing more and more year-round tennis - they were committed to tennis," PCHS coach Ignacio Cardenas said. "Last week's regional tournament gave us a lot of good experience. They've seen their pictures in the newspaper and received accolades for being regional champs, but one thing I tell my players is don't be overconfident."
In the boys brackets, Williamstown will be represented in the top three singles with Luke Flanagan, Aaron Leo and Ryan Leo and in the top two doubles with Flanagan hooking up with Aaron Leo, and Ryan Leo joining forces with Muhammad Kingson.
Flanagan and Aron Leo are two seniors who have advanced to state every year.
"Those two guys are the backbone of this team," Williamstown coach Jay Carter said. "The biggest thing is playing that match at that time at that moment. Don't look ahead."
Rounding out the boys division are Ravenswood's Ethan Cross (No. 1 singles), Nick Williams (No. 3 singles) and Sean Matics and Clayton Curry (No. 1 doubles).
St. Marys will concentrate its efforts in doubles with A.J. Harris and Dakota Studer (No. 1) and Lucas Powell and Eli Stewart (No. 2).
As for the Big Reds, Alexander D'Costa figures to be in the mix at No. 1 singles.
"I know most of the players, so I'm looking forward to it," D'Costa said. "It's good to have Huntington on the other side of the draw, but I still have Cabell Midland and George Washington so they ought to be good matches."
D'Costa's playing partner in No. 1 doubles is senior Tris Spitsnaugle who pulled off an impressive 9-7 win against Morgantown's Steven Wu in the finals at No. 2 singles at regionals.
"If I keep my confidence up and keep playing like I have, I feel like I can do well at the state tournament," Spitsnaugle said.
Even though she has a tough draw at No. 1 singles, Cassandra Powell is looking to close her high school career on a positive note. If she wins her first match, she meets future Virginia Cavalier Cassie Mercer from Huntington High School.
"It would be a good experience playing her especially since I'm getting ready to play college tennis," Powell said. "I just would prefer not to play her in the second round."
Rounding out the state qualifiers for PHS are Josh Roberts (No. 3 singles), Neema Saadevandi (No. 4 singles), Thone Thrash and Saadevandi (No. 2 doubles) and Landon Wells and Roberts (No. 3 doubles, Katie Gnegy (No. 3 singles), Alex Olson (No. 4 singles), Powell and Olson (No. 1 doubles) and Gnegy and Stansberry (No. 2 doubles).