CHARLESTON -Three local tennis programs are in serious contention for championship hardware with one day remaining at the state high school tennis tournament.
In Class AA/A, the Williamstown boys have 13 points and hold a slim two-point lead over Charleston Catholic. The two schools will go head-to-head in three finals. On the girls side, Parkersburg Catholic lead with eight points compared to seven for second place Bluefield. The Crusaderettes are still alive for a possible two singles titles and one doubles title.
In Class AAA, the Parkersburg boys have some work in front of them and trail frontrunner George Washington by one point, 13-12.
"The guys played absolutely great," Williamstown coach Jay Carter said. "They had to play outside and indoors, and they stayed focused and played really tough. It really was an exciting day."
Leading the charge for Williamstown was Luke Flanagan, who defeated Charleston Catholic's Noah Cable 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the finals against St. Joe's Max Meade.
Teammate Aaron Leo cruised past Petersburg's Ankur Makani 6-0, 6-1 and next plays Charleston Catholic's Andrew Jones in the finals. His younger brother, Ryan Leo, at No. 3 singles eliminated Keyser's Daniel Lewis 8-1 before posting a 6-0, 6-0 win against Wheeling Central's Billy Teufel. Charleston Catholic's Tyler Zubick awaits in the finals.
At No. 1 doubles, Flanagan and Aaron Leo won 8-3 in the quarterfinals against Madonna then rolled past Lincoln 6-0, 6-1 to set up a finals matchup with Scott.
At No. 2 doubles, Muhammad Kingson and Ryan Leo escaped past Keyser 8-6 before sweeping Lucas Powell and Eli Stewart 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals. Their next opponent is Charleston Catholic. The Ravenswood pair of Sean Matics and Clayton Curry passed its first test against Bluefield 8-4 then fell to Charleston Catholic 6-4, 6-0.
In Class AAA, PHS experienced both the ups and downs of the state tournament.
On the upside, the Big Reds' boys squad is in contention for a championship along with George Washington and Huntington.
"The boys are really excited about the opportunity to compete for a state title," PHS coach Pam Reeves.
Of the seven brackets, PHS will have a representative in the finals in two of the four singles brackets and two of the three doubles brackets.
At No. 2 singles, Tris Spitsnaugle split sets 4-6 and 7-5 with George Washington's Zack Koenig and was leading 2-0 in the third set when Koenig was forced to retire. Spitsnaugle meets Morgantown's Steven Wu in today's finals - the same opponent he defeated for the championship at last week's regionals.
Josh Roberts at No. 3 singles also advanced the finals after sweeping Huntington's Joseph Touma 6-4, 6-4. Awaiting Roberts in the championship match is George Washington's Nick Koenig.
By virtue of Zack Koenig's injury suffered in singles, Alexander D'Costa and Spitsnaugle won their semifinal match at No. 1 doubles by default. Their opponent in the finals will be a pair from Huntington.
Rounding out the championship match qualifiers for the Big Reds is the No. 2 doubles team of Rhone Thrash and Neema Saadevandi, who defeated a team from Oak Hill 8-4 then advanced to the finals after eliminating a team from Huntington 6-4, 7-5.
Unable to push further through the bracket was D'Costa at No. 1 singles after losing 6-2, 6-3 to George Washington's Ryan Massinople; and Saadevandi falling 6-3, 6-2 to George Washington's Thomas McIntosh at No. 4 singles.
The road ended for Parkersburg South's Garrett Dailey, who fell to Wu in the semifinals at No. 2 singles. Dailey and No. 1 doubles partner Grant Tebay were eliminated by Huntington in the quarterfinals. On Thursday, Tebay had defeated Greenbrier East's Tom VonDohlen 8-5 in the round of 16.
At No. 3 doubles, Roberts and Landon Wells suffered a 6-4, 6-3 semifinal defeat to a team represented by George Washington.
The storyline for the PHS girls involved a pair of injuries. At No. 2 singles, Sydney Stansberry had to default her semifinal match after injuring her knee. The injury lingered into the quarterfinal round of her No. 2 doubles match with teammate Katie Gnegy and the Big Reds were forced to default.
"The girls work so hard to get here and to see things like happen, it breaks your heart for them," Reeves said.
At No. 4 singles, Alex Olson played through an ankle injury before losing 6-2, 6-0 to George Washington's Jordyn O'Dell in the semfinals. Pre-injury, Olsen and No. 1 doubles partner defeated a team from Washington 8-3 then after the injury lost to Huntington 6-2, 6-3 in the semifinals.
The lone PHS survivor for today's finals on the girls side is the No. 3 doubles team of Ashley Casto and Verena Hohe, who won 6-4, 6-4 against George Washington in the semis.
Parkersburg Catholic kept its hopes alive in the Class AA/A girls division by advancing three entries into today's finals.
At No. 3 singles, Kate Clowes won a marathon semifinal match against Bluefield's Alex Lewis 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-0) and will meet St. Joseph's Parvanee Karimpour in the finals. The two girls have met twice this season with Karimpour winning twice by close margins.
Teammate Jillie Wiseman swept Keyser' Alyssa Kephart 7-5, 6-1 at No. 4 singles to set up a championship match with Madonna's Morgan Duerr and at No. 2 doubles, Wiseman and Clowes defeated Berkeley Springs 8-3 and knocked out Liberty in the semifinals 6-2, 6-1.
Crusaderettes who were denied in yesterday's competition included Erica Tracewell dropping a 6-3, 6-3 defeat to Weir's Barbie Sulimanova in the semifinals at No. 2 singles. Tracewell and No. 1 doubles partner Audrey Eisenmann were ousted by Oak Glen 8-5.
"I'm really proud of the girls," PCHS coach Ignacio Cardenas said. "At practice this week, I don't think we talked about a state championship, but I knew coming out as a regional winner we had the potential."