Parkersburg Catholic netters chat about state opponents

Photo by Joe Albright Parkersburg Catholic’s Marie Discini lines up a return shot during a home match earlier this year at Jackson Park.

VIENNA — “The draws are the draws.”

Parkersburg Catholic head coach Jason Discini was quite succinct when asked about his Crusader players’ placement for the Class AA/A tennis state tournament.

“We are going to take everybody seriously and respect everybody,” said Discini. “Now it is execution time. We are going one match at a time, one point at a time, and not looking ahead at anybody.”

Top Crusader boy Nash Morris kicks off PCHS’ state tournament with his match against Keyser’s Jacob Stanislawczyk at 8 a.m. Thursday at the Charleston Catholic tennis courts.

“We didn’t see Keyser all year,” said Noah Chidester when Morris asked if they had faced the Golden Tornado player.

A potential second round matchup against Chapmanville’s Austin Henshaw could be a challenge, but like his coach Morris isn’t looking too far ahead.

Chidester received a first-round bye in No. 2 singles competition.

Catholic’s only male senior awaits the winner of Ravenswood’s Nick Williams and Chance Spencer of Independence. On paper, Williams is the favorite to meet Chidester in the second round but anything can happen in the state tournament.

Catholic’s cerebral assassin owns a win over Williams in the lone matchup between the two schools this season.

“I beat him 8-3,” said the Crusader. “It was close in the beginning but I pulled away.”

His No. 2 bye wasn’t the only free pass … however.

The construction of the bracket awarded a free pass to Morris and himself in No. 1 doubles action as well. They await the winner of Independence High’s Seth Hall and Spencer versus Chapmanville’s Hanshaw and Alec Sowers Friday.

An early local flavor matchup features the Crusaders’ Brendan Smith against St. Marys’ Albert Baneras in a No. 3 singles first round pairing. It will be the second dual between the competitors in less than three weeks.

“I think I beat him 8-1,” said Smith. “But the score didn’t reflect how close the match actually was, I think we got to deuce a couple times and it was a lot more competitive than what the score shows.”

Baneras used his slice game to push Smith’s buttons, however the Crusader junior pushed Barneras’ buttons right back and attacked on his weaknesses. Smith used his superior stamina to wear down the Blue Devil senior.

Unlike the three players above him, freshman Aidan Roberts makes his state tournament debut two best of three set wins away from a state championship. His opening round opponent, North Marion’s Trey Toland, provides a new challenge to Roberts who did not face him in the regular season.

“Definitely going to be interesting getting there,” said Roberts. “You have to prepare a little more once you get there and definitely pay a lot more attention in the warm up. The warm up is when you can scope him out and see what kind of player he is. I am already trying to get prepared mentally and think of all the possible scenarios.”

Cross-court play currently shines brightest for Roberts. A slice here and there has been a big part of keeping kids off balance, but running back and forth has been a crucial reason for his success in advancing to Charleston.

Roberts and Smith team up in doubles action against the No. 2 pairing of Alec Martin and Ben Michael from Berkeley Springs.

Top Crusader girls player Marie Discini swelled with confidence when asked if she was worried about any of her matches on the way to the finals. Her answer was a succinct “Ummm…no.”

Discini has spent time hitting with Morris, Chidester, and Smith and going over strategy in practices leading up to the state tournament.

Hannah Sprout and Discini received a bye for the first round of the No. 1 doubles tournament. Winfield and Liberty-Raleigh do battle Thursday for the right to face the Crusader’s in a best of three match Friday.