Big Red boys tennis finishes as triple-A runner-up
CHARLESTON — Class AAA’s State Championship Saturday had a decidedly second-place feeling about it for Parkersburg High’s boys’ tennis team. The Big Reds finished runner-up as a team and in their four finals matches of the morning/early afternoon session during a rainy day indoors at Kanawha City’s Tennis Indoor Center.
Boys’ team state champion George Washington and girls’ team state champion Morgantown caused most of the Big Reds’ frustration and heartache. Either one or two Patriots or a pair of Mohigans matched up against all but one of the Big Reds’ title hopefuls.
Huntington’s J.J. Mercer polished off a perfect 80-0 prep singles career with a 6-0, 6-1 win over PHS’ No. 1 singles player Jacob Boone in the shortest opening match of the morning. Boone stayed positive the entire contest and didn’t sound too disheartened after the match. He knew going in to the contest the task would be a tall one after Mercer took all four meetings against him during the season.
Mercer’s title was the ninth consecutive top finals win for the Highlanders.
Nick McBride though became the first player to fall victim to a GW Patriot during his match with Azeem Khan. Seeking a season split with Khan, McBride lost the first set 6-1. Khan then slammed the door with a 6-2 win in the second set for his second consecutive state title.
McBride though took the court with No. 2 doubles partner Jaxen Ranson for a chance at a better outcome later in the afternoon. Ranson and McBride put up a spirited effort against Khan and Kareem Bacha, but couldn’t make the shots when they needed to the most in a 6-1, 6-3 decision.
Seena Saadevandi and Boone suffered a similar fate at the hands of Nadeem Jones and Anthony McIntosh in the No. 1 doubles championship. Their loss came as another tough pill to swallow. The Big Reds duo remained competitive out of the gate, losing the first set just 6-3. They then added another game on to the final set in a 6-4 setback.
No one left the tank empty according to head coach Jeff Olson.
“I couldn’t ask for them to give me more,” he said. “I think they gave me all they had. We had good draws coming into the week and have a really young team and am excited for what the future holds. I have said it before but in order to win a state championship you have to get to a state championship and the boys played well.”
Everyone returns for the boys’ team as Seena Saadevandi becomes the lone senior after school ends in early June. Everyone but Bairavi Sundaram likely returns for the girls’ team. They, like the boys, qualified everyone for states and were a young team.
Farrah McGinnis and Laurel Saunders did their best in the final opportunity to bring home a state championship to The School of Champions. The pair left everything on the court in a battle with Morgantown’s No. 3 doubles duo of Ashalia Aggarwal and Kathryne Regules.
No match ended closer than the outcome between the Big Reds and Mohigans. Closeness and skill and talent level became apparent from the first set as a tiebreaker decided the winner. Morgantown found a way to overcome four different tie ups for a 7-6 (8-6) opening set win.
They then road the momentum to a tightly contest 6-4 second set victory.
Olson felt the PHS duo gelled nicely for only coming together at the midway point of the season. Both were juniors and it is likely the duo stays together next season.
The girls as a team finished with a single point in the overall standings.