Locals Eye Titles

PARKERSBURG – With one day left in the West Virginia state tennis tournament, area Mid-Ohio Valley programs might be out of contention for a team state championship, but there’s plenty of individuals still vying for titles.

Starting at 8 a.m. today in Charleston, the championship round of play gets under way as the competitors will battle in best-of-three pro sets.

“You could not be more proud of their efforts today and their accomplishments,” said Parkersburg head coach Pam Reeves of her entire program, which will have a trio of boys – Alexander D’Costa (No. 2), Tris Spitsnaugle (No. 3) and Josh Roberts (No. 4) – go after state crowns.

On Friday, D’Costa advanced to the finals at No. 2 singles by ousting Huntington’s Campbell Neighborgall 6-3, 6-2 and will take on Zach Koenig of George Washington. D’Costa by virtue of reaching the finals at second singles earned all-state status. Spitsnaugle won his semifinal 6-2 and 6-1 against Huntington’s Austin Preece and will take on another Koenig from GW, Zach’s brother Nick. Roberts knocked off Highlander Charles Jenkins 6-2 and 6-0 and now meets GW’s Thomas McIntosh.

Parkersburg’s Saaman Ghodsi also nabbed all-state honors by making the semifinals at No. 1 singles, but he was stopped short of the finals after he ran into Huntington defending state champion Hunter Tubert, who won in straight 6-0 sets.

The PHS No. 1 doubles team of Ghodsi and D’Costa posted an 8-2 win against Shady Spring in the quarterfinals, but lost to Huntington in the semifinals, 6-2 and 6-1.

Rhone Thrash and Landon Wells will go for a crown against GW in No. 3 doubles after the Big Reds posted a 6-2, 2-6 and 6-4 victory in the semifinals versus the Highlanders.

Joining Ghodsi and D’Costa as all-state members this year from PHS is Cassandra Powell, the Big Red girls’ No. 1 singles player.

Powell advanced to the semifinals before bowing out to defending champion Cassie Mercer of Huntington, 6-0 and 6-1. Powell and teammate Amber Kesterson will play for a championship at first doubles against Huntington. The Big Red duo eliminated GW in an 8-3 match and posted a 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) triumph versus University in the semifinals.

Big Red Sheridan White fell in the semifinals to Huntington’s Rachel Subik, 6-1 and 7-5 at three singles, but Ripley’s Arin Shatto defeated Dori Sanders of Washington 6-3 and 6-2 and will play for a No. 4 title today versus University’s Meghan Zerkel.

PHS also suffered semifinal setbacks at two and three doubles. Katie Stanley and Katie Gnegy had an 8-4 win against Ripley, but lost 6-4 and 6-3 to Huntington. Kristen Calebaugh and Jennifer Riffle lost their first set against Hurricane 6-2 at No. 3 doubles. Although they won the second set 6-2, the Redskins posted a 6-0 third set win.

In the Class AA/A side of things, the Williamstown boys along with the Ravenswood and Ritchie County girls were in second place.

It will be an all-Little Kanawha Conference affair at No. 2 singles for the girls when Ravenswood’s Taylor Youell tries to defeat Ritchie County’s Olivia Haught for a fourth straight time this season. Youell, who made the finals by holding off Charleston Catholic’s Christina Centofani 6-2, 2-6 and 7-5, had her toughest match versus Haught at last week’s regional when the Red Devil won 8-5. Haught also won two matches on Friday, which included a 6-1, 6-4 victory against Poca’s Courtney Mobley in the semifinals.

Haught’s Rebel teammate Veronica Mueller will not be playing today after suffering a season-ending, straight-set 6-1 loss to Bridgeport’s Alexis Alastanos in the semifinals. However, Mueller and Haught did become the first Rebels in the four-year history of the program to garner all-state accolades.

Youell will team with Alex McNabb to try and beat Charleston Catholic for a state crown at No. 1 doubles after the RHS teammates ousted Oak Glen in the semifinals via a 6-3 and 7-6 win that featured a 7-1 tiebreak. Red Devil Bess McNabb was turned back in the semifinals at the third singles position by scores of 6-0 and 6-3 against Allie Lamm of Bridgeport.

Williamstown’s Aaron Leo will have a tall task in trying to beat Charleston Catholic’s Scott Standish in the finals at No. 2 singles. The junior Leo, who has lost to Standish thrice on the campaign, clinched his all-state status after posting a 6-0, 3-6 and 6-3 win against Bluefield’s Jose Tarin in the semifinals.

Head coach Jay Carter’s Yellowjackets also have Leo and fellow 11th-grader Luke Flanagan alive at No. 1 doubles, but they too will go against a Charleston Catholic squad.

“We’re looking for a dog fight,” Carter said of the No. 1 doubles showdown that the Irish won by an 8-5 count at regional.

A.J. Harris of St. Marys lost in straight 6-0 sets to Tanner Whipkey of Charleston Catholic in the semifinals at No. 4 singles. Harris and Marcus Moore also fell at No. 2 doubles while Williamstown’s Ryan Leo and Alex Gedon were ousted at two doubles as well, like the Blue Devils, in the semifinals.