CHARLESTON - Aaron Leo made Williamstown tennis history here Saturday at the state tournament and the Yellowjackets ended Charleston Catholic's eight-year domination in Class AA/A by topping the Irish, 16-13.
The championship was the second in school history. The only other time the 'Jackets won was back in 1995 when coach Tim Butcher's squad brought home the championship trophy.
Leo (24-0) finished the first perfect campaign for WHS when he dominated the No. 2 singles final against Charleston Catholic's Andrew Jones by scores of 6-1 and 6-3.
Photo by Jay W. Bennett
For the second time in school history and the first since 1995, the Williamstown boys tennis team of head coach Jay Carter won the Class AA/A state tennis tournament. Team members, front row from left, are two-time all-staters Aaron Leo and Luke Flanagan. In back, from left, is the Yellowjackets’ state runner-up No. 2 doubles team of Muhammad Kingson and Ryan Leo.
Fellow senior teammate Luke Flanagan, who like Leo is a two-time all-stater, suffered a 6-3, 6-1 loss at No. 1 singles to Huntington St. Joe's Max Meade. However, the seniors combined to win the No. 1 doubles titles thanks to a 6-4 and 6-2 triumph versus Scott's duo of Caleb Starkey and Blake Chambers.
"My number one and two dogs. Luke Flanagan and Aaron. They just did a great job this season," Carter said. "They were that backbone. When you go 20-4 (Flanagan) and 24-0, that's really good.
"Then seeing Aaron's little brother (junior) Ryan and my No. 4 guy Muhammad (Kingson), they just fed into it and raised their level of play. I'm really, really happy for them and it's really truly been a great season."
The elder Leo said "it's a great way to end my high school career. It's long overdue. Hard work is what it's been. We were just trying to get it done for this year.
"After I walked off my championship match when I won he (Carter) told me and I was just in awe. It's amazing. It's an amazing feat that no one has ever done before, but it definitely feels good to have that opportunity."
The opportunity was in front of WHS last spring, but the Yellowjackets had to head back to Wood County with a state runner-up trophy. That wasn't going to be the case this time around.
"It's surreal," admitted Flanagan, who will play at West Liberty while Aaron Leo heads to Fairmont State. "We've been training for this from freshman year until now. This is what our goal has been since day one of freshman year.
"We wanted to win a state championship for the school and just show what the Williamstown tennis program has to offer and we did. Last year we almost had it. It (doubles title) feels great. Aaron's as awesome partner and I wouldn't trade him for the world."
Ryan Leo won the No. 3 singles title thanks to a 6-0 and 6-1 victory against Tyler Zubick of the Irish. However, Ryan Leo and Kingson didn't have enough to get past Charleston Catholic's Zubick and Andrew Jones, who posted a 3-6, 6-0 and 6-2 win.
Tris Spitsnaugle lost 7-6 (7-4), 1-6 and 6-4 to Morgantown's Steven Wu at No. 2 singles. That match lasted a little more than three horus. Teammate Josh Roberts came up short in three singles to GW's Nick Koenig, 6-2 and 6-0.
In doubles action, Spitsnaugle and Alexander D'Costa lost 4-6, 6-3 and 6-4 to Huntington's Austin Preece and Hunter Tuber. Both Spitsnaugle and D'Costa earned all-state accolades. Also, Big Reds Rhone Thrash and Neema Saadevandi fell 6-3 and 6-0 at No. 2 doubles versus GW's Nick Koenig and Thomas McIntosh.
"A lot of people wish they could get here," said PHS head coach Pam Reeves. "Therefore, we celebrate the opportunity to come and the kids did well. I was so proud of them.
"For Tris to get to play singles and doubles, he had a seven or eight hour workday today. He's amazing. He played his heart out, but that's the true mark of what he is - a fantastic student-athlete."