One singles, two doubles qualify

CHARLESTON – A sullen and wet morning session here Friday turned into a raucous afternoon at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Facility as the Parkersburg Big Reds qualified three different singles or pairings for the state championship matches.

The title tilts are set to begin at 8 a.m. today at Schoenbaum Courts in Kanawha City.

The Big Reds’ No. 4 singles player Lauren Kruger started the party after her hard-fought 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 win propelled her into the championship match today. George Washington’s Jordyn O’Dell was on the losing side of the contest.

The sophomore will look to finish her undefeated season in addition to laying claim to a state championship when she takes on Hurricane’s Rebecca Osborne this morning.

“I am very confident heading into my match tomorrow,” said Kruger. “I have never played Rebecca, but I have heard she is a really good player. I am going to play smart and aggressive. If I stick to that, I hope to come out with a victory.”

Kruger also punched her ticket to the final match of the year in No. 2 doubles. She paired with freshman Bairavi Sundaram to make quick work of Woodward/Staker from Huntington in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.

The duo will play GW’s Patel/Moses bright and early for their shot at a championship plaque.

Their counterparts on the Big Red boys No. 2 team also qualified for finals. The combination of Zarion Jones and Landon Wells played a terrific two-set match against Jefferson’s Turney/French to prevail.

The duo needed a tiebreak to take the first set 7-6 (7-4), but didn’t have an ounce of trouble in winning the second set and match, 6-1.

The exemplary pairing will face George Washington’s Moses/Zent in the finals.

Jones almost made it four state qualifiers on the day. He played George Washington’s Thomas McIntosh in a No. 1 singles semifinal and looked to be on cruise control early.

The PHS freshman took the first set, 6-0, with surprising speed before McIntosh had a chance to settle down. The “G-dubya” player recovered and used his serve to maximum effectiveness in the second set.

The maroon-clad GW junior only dropped one game in the second 12-game series to even the score at a set a piece. He then opened the deciding set with a three-game win streak before Jones was able to put up his first win to put the score at 3-1.

Jones proceeded to break his opponent in the next set and went back on serve to even things up 3-all after six. Jones broke McIntosh in the next game, but the GW player was able to endure and even things up at 4-4.

The red-clad PHS netter managed to kick the score up to 5-4 in his favor, but McIntosh once again persevered and eventually took the match 7-5 to advance to today’s finals against Huntington’s J.J. Mercer.

“He really moved me around the court a lot today,” said Jones when asked what bothered him while on the court. “His serve and ball control really got me in that second set. My confidence was really high after I won the first set, but then he broke that serve out on me and it took me a while to adjust.

“I finally got things settled down in the deciding set, but he had some experience in places I didn’t today and he was able to overcome and get the win. I am still really happy with my performance. I set my goal at the beginning of the year to get to the semifinals and I just about got to the finals. I will definitely take that.”

Additional Big Reds to make it to the state semifinals before falling included: Jones counterpart Alex Olson, both No. 2 players in Ashley Casto and Neema Saadevandi, No. 3 singles players Landon Wells and Bairavi Sundaram, No. 4 doubles player Andrew Gnegy and all the doubles teams other than both No. 2 teams.