Crusader girls capture AA/A tennis championship

Photo by Joe Albright Parkersburg Catholic girls tennis won the Class AA/A state championship Saturday in Charleston.

CHARLESTON — Marie Discini’s primal exclamation of “Let’s go” following her Class AA/A girls’ tennis No. 1 singles’ state championship win rang appropriate for a number of reasons. Not only did the Parkersburg Catholic player secure her third ultimate prize finish in as many seasons, but it officially kicked off the Crusaders’ team state championship celebration over runner-up and defending state champion Winfield.

The team title now gives head coach Jason Discini one for the boys and one for the girls in three seasons with the team.

The boys raised their banner back in 2017 when he saw the potential for the girls to not lag to far behind.

“With Marie anchoring us and the development of Hannah (Sprout) coupled with I knew what was coming up I figured we would win at least one girls title but not until Marie’s senior year. It is great this happened sooner than expected,” he said.

“It means a lot. I am very proud of our team’s accomplishments and this hasn’t happened in a while,” Marie said of the accomplishments.

Marie put on a masterful performance against friend and Huntington St. Joe’s Audrey Heaberlin on the way to a 6-0, 6-1 victory in the best-of-three contest.

WVSSAC’s title plaque put a cap on a season where she dropped four games all year.

The only trouble came in the opening game of the final set. Heaberlin’s serve combined with “a little sloppy” play refocused Discini on the task at hand. Shots came out more consistent and were low and on point through the championship match.

Her victory now sets up the drive for a fourth state title, which Huntington’s JJ Mercer accomplished this season. She spoke of a healthy approach to the task at hand. “I am just going to take it one match at a time and not get to big for my britches,’ she said.

Though No. 3 player Taylor Isaly couldn’t join her teammate as a singles champion, Discini and her combined for a No. 1 doubles’ championship over the Charleston Catholic duo of Bella Cinco and Evie Bastin. Isaly capped a standout freshman season with two plaques, one of which probably shouldn’t have happened after her first-round match saw her comeback from triple match point.

“She did a great job of battling yesterday too and I am super proud of the way she played,” said Catholic head coach Jason Discini.

Bastin wouldn’t face just two Crusaders on the day. Defending No. 2 singles’ player Hannah Sprout and her tangoed in the title match bright and early as one of the first five matches on the Charleston YMCA Courts.

Sprout overcame a sluggish start to retain her title after two sets. The doubles title eluding her the past two seasons though continued its dodging of the junior. Mackenzie Campbell and her could not overcome the Winfield’s No. 2 doubles duo of Ginny Anderson and Divija Kottapalli.

The pair likely will get a second chance next season as the Crusaders eye a repeat title. Catholic brings back everyone on the girls and boys side for a run at a school first dual championships.

“I am really excited because I am not losing a single player,” said Jason. “You never want to get overconfident but everyone is going to be better and have a fantastic chance to win the whole thing again.”

The team celebrated the title among fans and students following a police escort through town and back to the high school.

Bradon Nguyen, Ethan Lang and Andrew Shaw couldn’t keep the good feelings flowing on the boys side. The No. 4 doubles player and No. 3 doubles duo ran into better competition in the final matches.

Aiden Roberts, Marie Discini and Sprout took home all-state honors together for the second straight season.