Big Reds take third place at state tennis tournament

CHARLESTON – It was a long, tough day filled with close calls and a lot of learning for Parkersburg and Parkersburg Catholic tennis Saturday at Schoenbaum Courts.

The Big Reds and Crusaders all placed runner-up in their six matches of the day.

“It was a day where experience won out,” said Crusader head coach Dino Lyons, whose boys team finished third with nine points behind runner-up Bridgeport (10) and state champion Charleston Catholic (20). “The kids who know what this is all about definitely had the edge. The boys did a great job fighting and didn’t give up even when the going got tough.”

Lyons’ No. 1 singles player Nash Morris started the day for the Wood County city in the West Virginia Class AA/A championship match. The sophomore faced Charleston Catholic’s Andrew Jones.

Nash started things out well winning the first game and breaking Jones, but the Irish player quickly won the next four games before Nash could get back on the board. After losing the second game of the set Jones turned things up and didn’t lose another game the rest of the way in winning 6-1, 6-0.

Shortly after Nash took the court, the Crusaders’ No. 2 singles player Noah Chidester took to action on court five against Charleston Catholic’s Tyler Zubick.

Chidester gave a valiant effort but ultimately could not overcome the Irish’s Zubik, whom he had beaten twice previously this season. The Crusader fell in the match 6-2, 6-3 in straight sets.

In the No. 3 singles match, Brendan Smith fought hard but couldn’t keep pace with Charleston Catholic’s Joe Kelly. The sophomore was defeated 6-1, 6-4 in straight sets.

Next up, Parkersburg’s undefeated No. 4 singles player Lauren Kruger faced off against Hurricane’s Rebecca Osbourne.

Once again, the results did not fall in the favor of the “right” team as the sophomore fell 6-2, 6-3.

The two final matches of the day provided the closest opportunities for Parkersburg to crown a state champion; both No. 2 doubles teams played valiantly and went a third set before succumbing to defeat.

Bairavi Sundaram and Kruger started out slow in their pairing against George Washington’s Paige Phillips and Lindsey Goff, dropping the first set, 6-1.

However, the word quit was not in the duos vocabulary and the pair fought back commendably in the next set to win, 6-2, to send things to a deciding set.

Whether they were fatigued or just overmatched, the duo could not yield a winning game in the final set and walked off the court at second place after a 6-0 final set loss.

Finally, Landon Wells and Zarion Jones provided a bit of hope for the Big Reds faithful. They were facing the GW duo of Peyton Moses and Cooper Zant and got things off to a good start. The Big Red pairing used a combination of strong serves and a great rally ability to send the Patriots to the bench after a 6-0 first set victory.

Unfortunately for the senior/freshman duo, Zant and Moses did not let their performance in the first set rattle their confidence. With many a hoot and a holler and plenty of shouts of “come on” from the Patriots’ mouths, the doubles team grabbed a 6-2 win to set up a showdown matchup.

The red and white-clad foe quickly jumped out to a 5-0 lead before the Big Reds won the next two straight to get the score to 5-2. But this was not to be the remarkable comeback the Big Red onlookers hoped for as GW clinched match point in the next game.

The pair jumped into each other’s arms to celebrate the victory.

“It was a very tough day,” said Big Reds head coach Pam Reeves. “But I am proud of how hard these kids battled all season. Most of them will be back next season to build on their successes this season and many of them will use this as motivation in the offseason to get even better.”

In the overall team scoring for AAA, Parkersburg snared a pair of third place finishes for the tournament. The PHS boys had eight points and trailing champion GW (18) and runner-up Huntington (16). The red and white girls tallied seven points as Huntington nipped Hurricane (16-15) for the title.

The only other area Mid-Ohio Valley finals entry on Saturday featured the No. 1 doubles of Ravenswood’s Max Hilton and Nick Williams, who came up short 6-0 and 6-3 to Zubick and Jones of the Irish.