PHS girls tennis defeats GW; boys go down

Big Reds’ McBride comes back from 7-1 deficit to get victory

PARKERSBURG –The PHS boys tennis team won a whopping seven games in as many matches in the first meeting with a George Washington squad favored to win a state title in a little over two months.

Mental toughness factors in as a key component when faced with a team as good as the Patriots.

While GW captured six of the seven contests Wednesday at City Park, Parkersburg players made sure their opponents trip North was a three-hour affair.

PHS captured three times as many games then back on March 27 in Charleston.

The Big Reds’ No. 1 singles’ player Jacob Boone and No. 3 player Nick McBride became the poster children for the mental improvements displayed by the home team over the course of two of the longest matches of the day.

McBride matched the win total on his own during a 9-7 come-from-behind victory against Azeem Kahn. Their match finished third to last as the Big Red overcame a 7-1 deficit to defeat the reigning singles’ state champion. The emotionally charged match featured primal growls from both competitors as each stayed hyped for the occasion.

“When you get in a hole like Nick did it is really hard to pull out but he did,” said PHS head coach Jeff Olson of McBride. “It is an impressive comeback and he had great focus,”

Neither Kahn nor McBride budged in the extra games but McBride made enough shots in the end for the win.

Though Boone’s story ended with a loss, the sophomore played McIntosh the best any PHS player has in three years of singles competition at the top spot.

An opening-game break injected an early boost of confidence in Boone. One he would need as McIntosh surged ahead 7-4. With little room for error, the Big Red stayed in his opponents’ head with some sharp shots down the line for two straight game victories. McIntosh could be heard talking to himself after each game he lost. He was less then pleased with his performance. The Patriot finally finished the match with two points after the final game started at 15 all.

“Yes it was a tremendous improvement from last time,” Olson added of the two boys and the day overall. “It goes to show how good GW is and we have a ways to go but we have another month and if we keep working hard we will be there in the end.”

Other head coach Heidi Asbury and Olson though first watched their No. 1 girls doubles team put on an impressive performance against a Patriot duo already in possession of an 8-2 win earlier in the year. Bairavi Sundaram and Cameron Hanshaw, who played their first ever doubles match together against the GW duo of Nikita Patel and Nuper Bendre, finished up four breaks in an 8-3 win.

“I was so busy with other stuff at school I wasn’t able to commit as much to practice as I wanted to in order for us to really work on doubles,” said Sundaram who was preoccupied winning a state championship at the West Virginia Speech and Debate Association Tournament.

“But we had a really solid practice yesterday and the South match was good practice for us too and I think we are finally getting the hang of working together.”

The key for the Big Red duo were the sixth and seventh games. Already up 3-2, Hanshaw held serve before a break put the home pair up 5-2.

“Our confidence went up and we were going for net shots and aggressive down the line shots and we weren’t scared,” Sundaram said. “We definitely relaxed.”

The pair constructed a good case to be the top-ranked doubles group. Asbury and Olson continued to tinker with the girls’ couplings.

“I think we are getting real close,” said Olson on his doubles teams. “Cameron and Bairavi play really well together on the court and compliment each other well.”

Brylee Jackson and Laurel Sanders joined forces for an 8-4 victory in No. 2 doubles, while sister Kelsie Sanders and Farrah McGinnis grabbed a No. 2 doubles triumph, 8-5.

Sundaram continued her roll through Patel with an 8-3 win in the top-ranked singles’ match.

Overall, the PHS girls picked up five wins as compared to four two weeks ago.