PHS sweeps regional tennis championships

PARKERSBURG-A year ago Parkersburg High School freshman Alex Olson found herself on the losing end of her middle school championship match. The first-year member of the Big Red tennis team wasn’t going to have a repeat on Friday as she overcame windy conditions to knock off No. 1 seeded Cassid Seamon of University, 8-1.

The victory not only secured Olson her first regional title, but clinched the team championship for Pam Reeves’ squad.

“Clinching the title for my team was most important,” said Olson. “Honestly, I kind of thought we could win (the team championship) with Cassandra (Powell) and Katie (Gnegy) both playing in the finals.

“The player I played today (University’s Cassidy Seamon) is a great player. But, so am I. It feels really good to win and it especially feels good that my win helped our team win.”

Olsen’s victory gave the Big Reds 15 points-one better than runnerup University (14) and two better than Morgantown (13)-and a sweep of the team titles after the boys’ swept all seven title matches en route to a 19-11 decision over runnerup Morgantown.

“With our guys it was business as usual,” said Reeves. “But, our girls were a complete surprise. We knew it would be a battle between us and University and Morgantown came in a played well.”

The final day of the event opened with doubles play.

Two of the three finals in boys pitted Parkersburg against crosstown rival Parkersburg South. At No. 1 the Big Reds’ Alexander D’Costa and Tris Spitsnaugle knocked off the Patriots’ Grant Tebay and Garrett Dailey by an 8-6 score while at No. 3 the team of Josh Roberts and Landon Wells dominated from start to finish in ousting South’s Franklin Miller and Josh Cramlet, 8-2.

The No. 2 final pitted Parkersburg’s Neema Saadevandi and Rhone Thrash against Morgantown’s Steven Wu and Adam McKnight with the Big Red duo holding off the Mohigans by an 8-6 count.

In the girls’ doubles Parkersburg came up with victories at No. 2 and No. 3 as Sydney Stansberry and Gnegy teamed up to beat University’s Brooke Franklin and Seamon by a 9-7 margin while Ashley Casto and Verena Hohe led from start to finish in eliminating Morgantown’s Michelle Joseph and Demi Derrico by an 8-1 score.

Finally, the day ended with the championship matches in singles with Parkersburg’s D’Costa knocking off John Marshall’s Hayden Blazer, 8-1, for the No. 1 title; Spitsnaugle gaining a little bit of revenge for a regular season loss to Morgantown’s Wu (9-7); Roberts holding off the Mohigans’ McKnight (8-4) and Saadevandi sweeping past Morgantown’s Michael Derrico, 8-2, at No. 4.

“The wind played a huge factor today,” said Spitsnaugle. “You really can’t practice for it. But, I came out with some confidence and really played some of my best tennis of the year.”

Parkersburg would have three girls vying for individual titles, however, Powell came out on the wrong end of an 8-4 score to Morgantown’s Abby Rosiello while Gnegy dropped an 8-6 decision to University’s Franklin.

Olson made those two setbacks moot as the freshman led from start to finish.

“Yesterday was really the hardest day for me,” said Olson. “I’ve never had that kind of experience before so I was feeling a lot of pressure.’

Pressure that will continue next week as the Big Reds compete at the state meet in Charleston.

“It’s great to win these today, but the real challenge comes next week in Charleston,” said Reeves. “But, the kids are playing with a lot of confidence right now and that can make a lot of difference down there.”