CRHS girls’ tennis enjoying unprecedented regional title

By Paul Adkins padkins@civitasmedia.com

May 14, 2014

CHAPMANVILLE — If the Chapmanville Regional High School tennis team has not already put itself on the map they are on it now.

They’ve been on a mission all season long.

The hard work finally paid off last Friday night with the Chapmanville girls’ tennis team’s unprecedented performance as the team shared a Class AA/A regional championship.

It was quite a feat for Chapmanville, which had never really been known as a powerhouse in tennis.

The Lady Tigers crashed what had been observed as the “private school” regional party for so long and came away as co-regional champions with Parkersburg Catholic.

It was the first regional championship for Chapmanville in school history.

The title also sent all six of their starters to the state tournament.

That’s the most Chapmanville has ever sent.

The Lady Tigers have accomplished this feat with primarily underclassman.

Of the six starters Chapmanville has only one senior, one junior, one sophomore and three freshmen.

Head coach Don Saunders said this team has the chance to be good for a long period of time.

“For these girls to be so young and to do what they did today was incredible,” Saunders said. “We knew we would have to play a lot of young players this year after losing so many seniors the past two seasons, but these girls came in ready to play and have been determined since day one to make it to states. We’ve got a great chance to be good for the next several years and it’s even better because they are all great kids, the girls and boys. I’m very happy and proud of them.”

Assistant coach Geoff Saunders was thrilled with the outcome and is looking forward to making a run at a state title this week.

“We worked really hard all season long to compete for this goal,” he said. “We knew going in we would have an opportunity to send several players to the state tournament, but to get all six girls in is amazing. They deserve this and now they have a good opportunity to make a run at a possible title both individually and as a team. It’s a very exciting time to be involved with this program and it couldn’t have happened to a better group of girls.”

Chapmanville middle school head coach and CRHS assistant coach Chris Kidd said the rise the program has seen in the past five years has been incredible to watch.

“When I played for Logan in high school back in 2002 Chapmanville wasn’t looked at as a threat,” Kidd said. “They had a good player here and there but no one ever anticipated they would send more than two players to the states. Then when I got here five years ago there was a lot of work that needed to be done. But we became more active in getting kids out to play, starting our feeder system at the middle school, doing summer leagues and just putting in the work. Tonight it all paid off.”

The Lady Tigers had to navigate through a field that included the six-time defending state champions Charleston Catholic, who since 1995 have won 13 of the 19 class AA/A state titles, while private schools have won 15 of the 19 titles. The rest of the region is comprised of Parkersburg Catholic, Huntington St. Joseph, Williamstown, Scott, Sherman, Poca, Mingo Central and Sissonville.

Over the course of the season the Lady Tigers have set one milestone after another.

They finished the season 15-2, which broke the school record set by the girls team two seasons ago.

CRHS also defeated every team in the region which had never happened before.

Three freshman qualified for the state tournament when Chapmanville had never had one qualify in school history.

Chapmanville dominated the Cardinal Conference tournament two weekends ago, winning it for the first time in school history and taking six of the seven titles in that tournament.

Then CRHS recorded their first individual regional championship, winning the No. 3 doubles bracket.

Chapmanville’s regional title run began in singles, as the No. 1 player, junior Haley Justice, knocked off Emily Hatfield of Mingo Central 8-0 to qualify for the state tournament.

Justice then advanced to the finals by outlasting Tarnee Karimpour of Huntington St. Joe 9-7, before falling in the finals to Christina Centafonti of Charleston Catholic.

Justice will be a No. 2 seed at this week’s state tournament. With the win Justice became only the third girl in Chapmanville history to qualify for the state tournament in both singles and doubles along with Kylie Clay and Natasha Williams and only became the second player to do it all in one season. Williams accomplished that feat last year.

In No. 2 singles, senior Sravya Pidaparthi won her first match over Sherman’s Sierra Edwards 8-0, before losing to Mingo Central’s Maria Ramey.

In No. 3 singles, sophomore Lasya Pidaparthi advanced to the semifinals with an 8-0 win over Charleston Catholic’s Regan Palmer, but then lost a tough 8-5 match to Parkersburg Catholic’s Kate Clowes, leaving Pidaparthi one match shy of qualifying for the state tournament in singles.

In No. 4 singles, freshman Myla Bryant nearly qualified for the state tournament, as she made her way through a difficult field, defeating Haley Hurlihy of Charleston Catholic 8-5 in the quarterfinals, then knocking out Williamstown’s Emily Boyd 8-5 in the semifinals, but came up short in a hard fought 9-7 loss to Jillian Wiseman of Parkersburg Catholic.

In doubles, the Lady Tigers were able to get over the hump in all three positions.

In No. 1 doubles the team of Sravya and Lasya Pidaparthi upset Huntington St. Joe’s Karimpour sisters 8-3 after St. Joe had beaten them both times in the regular season.

The Pidaparthi’s continued their run by coming from 5-2 down to defeat Parkersburg Catholic’s Audrey Eisenman and Erica Tracewell 9-8 (7-0) in the semifinals to earn a spot in the state tournament. The Pidaparthi’s would then fall in the finals to Charleston Catholic’s Centafonti and Sarah Fox.

In No. 2 doubles, the team of Justice and freshman Cassidy Lewis breezed by Sherman’s Kaylee Gordon and McKenzie Thomas 8-0, and then qualified for the state tournament by defeating Hurlihy and Palmer of Charleston Catholic 8-3. Justice and Lewis would fall in the finals to Parkersburg Catholic, but are now one of the last eight teams remaining in their position at the state tournament.

In the No. 3 doubles draw, Chapmanville’s Bryant and freshman Sara Lambert were the top seed after losing only one match all year. They received a walkover win against Sherman, then in the semifinals Chapmanville eliminated Charleston Catholic for the fourth time, effectively ending their hopes at a seventh straight state title, as they defeated Rachel Gouhin and Rachel Mullins 8-1 to move into the finals.

In the finals, Bryant and Lambert faced the only team to beat them in the regular season, Huntington St. Joe’s Tatianna Schrader and Kathleen Steadman. The Lady Tigers got out to an early lead, and hung on for a tough 8-4 win to give Chapmanville their first individual and team regional title in school history.

The state tournament will begin this Thursday and will run through Saturday.

Matches will begin at 8 a.m. each day.

The Class AAA state tournament will be held at Charleston Catholic’s Sports Complex for the first two days, while the Class AA/A field will be at Kanawha City’s Schoenbaum Tennis Courts.

All championship matches will be played at Kanawha City on Saturday.