The Southern West Virginia Warriors summer tennis team had a respectable showing last weekend at the Ohio Valley Midwest Section USTA Jr. Team Tennis District Championships in Wilmington, Ohio, where the local squad finished fourth in the 18-and-under division.
The tournament featured a bunch of teams from Ohio from such places as Columbus, Cincinnati, Celina, Scarborough, Turbin Hills, Schroeder, Elysium, Wilmington and Groveport.
The Warriors, made up of players from Chapmanville, Logan, Scott and Mingo Central high schools, was the only team from the state of West Virginia in the tourney.
The team from the Racquet Club of Columbus was the winner in the Warriors’ division as they defeated Scarborough 32-22 in the finals. The Racquet Club of Columbus also won the 12-and-under division, the 14-and-under division, and the 18-and-under advanced division.
The Racquet Club of Columbus will represent the Ohio Valley Region at the Midwest Championships in Indianapolis starting on August 2. The winners there will move on to the Junior Olympics.
The Logan area team was made up of Colton Townsend, a soon-to-be sophomore at Chapmanville Regional High School and Haley Justice, a rising junior at Chapmanville, who made the state tournament in the No. 1 girls doubles this past season,
Logan Adkins, who is a recent graduate of Logan High School and made the state tournament in No. 2 doubles this past season, was also a member of the team.
Rounding out the Warriors’ squad was Kali Scott and Gloria Blair, a pair of rising juniors at Scott High School and Kyle Surber, who will be a senior at Mingo Central High School this coming year. He made the state tournament in the No. 2 singles this past season.
All of the Warriors’ players take part in the Chapmanville Summer Tennis League.
The locals fared well against difficult competition in the Ohio tournament.
Surber recorded a significant victory as he knocked off his Racquet Club opponent, 6-2, in singles action.
Justice and Scott narrowly lost in doubles, 6-4, to the Buckeye State team.
No team took more than two matches from the formidable Columbus club, but the local summer league club came closer than anyone.
The Warriors also scored wins against Celina in girls’ doubles, as Scott and Blair won 6-0, and later against host team Wilmington the mixed doubles team of Justice and Surber scored a 6-3 win over their opponents.
Sportsmanship was also one of the key attributes of this event and team members Adkins and Scott were acknowledged for their sportsmanship and received awards for their positive attitude and kindness on the court.
“This was an incredible experience for these kids,” League Coordinator and head coach Chris Kidd said. “Not many of them have been a part of something this big or this professional before and it was great to see them respond in this atmosphere. I think everyone was a little nervous at first and wondered if we could compete with these teams, but our kids really stepped up and represented our area and our state very well. I was extremely proud of all of them.”
Chris Kidd’s brother, Bryan, the head tennis coach at Chapmanville Middle School, also helped coach the Warriors’ team.
“This trip was a blast for both the kids and us grown-ups as well,” Bryan Kidd said. “Our kids played against country club teams and racquet clubs from throughout the Midwest and held their own. I’m so proud of all of them for what they accomplished and I can’t wait to go back next year and win the tournament.”
Chris Kidd said the level of competition was a lot higher than what the players are used to seeing in high school.
“The caliber of play is definitely higher here than against most teams we play throughout the year in high school,” he said. “These are teams and areas that eat, sleep and breathe tennis. They have private coaches and instruction along with playing some of the best talent on the east coast. We don’t have any of those luxurious in the Logan area, so we have to fight to get better. We were definitely the underdog coming in and I like that. And I think our kids like that. It’s fun to prove you belong in these matches with top quality opponents, and I believe this will only give them more confidence going forward.”
Kidd said he’s seen tennis get more and more popular in Logan and the surrounding counties over the last few years.
“I think people are starting to get behind this sport more and more each year,” he said. “Tennis used to be a big afterthought in Chapmanville and in the Logan area, but more and more kids are starting to take notice of what we are doing and I hope parents do as well. There’s more out there than just football, baseball and basketball. Kids are good at different sports so why not give this a try? Why watch your kid sit on the bench hoping they get in the final 45 seconds of a blowout when they could excel at something else? It makes no sense to me. Put a racquet in their hand and see if they can develop. So many great tennis players come from playing other sports because they didn’t know they had this skil and kids in the Chapmanville area are starting to understand this more and more, and I think we’ll start seeing that again in the Logan area soon enough with the job that my brother Bryan Kidd is doing, along with LHS coaches Justin Turner and Cherith Altizer.”
Kidd said he’s received a lot of help.
“People are also becoming more helpful in our area,” Chris Kidd said. “So many parents and administrators and businesses are starting to offer their help and support to our program and it’s been such a big boost to our teams. I want to keep upgrading our facilities and making this a top notch program in the state that people can’t ignore and we are on our way to doing that both in high school and in our summer league. I can’t thank people like Jack Mullens and Jeff Justice enough. They do a lot in the community for the kids and they and their businesses (Giovanni’s and Krist Door Service) reached out to us and helped us tremendously with this trip to make sure the kids had a good time. And I also appreciated Pam Surber’s effort in raising extra money for us in the Gilbert area to go along with the trip when she didn’t have to. I have some amazing parents that will do anything to help us out.
“Sometimes it feels like your pushing a boulder up a hill with a tennis program both talent wise and financially, but we’ve started to get a lot of extra hands on board and it’s making trips and events like our league so much easier to pull off. I just really appreciate all of their hard work and help. I couldn’t do it without them.”
Kidd, the head tennis coach at Chapmanville Middle School, said it was a joy to get to coach the non-Chapmanville players with the Warriors.
“The six kids that came with us are six of the best young people you could have,” Chris Kidd said. “I’ve coached Haley and Colton for three years now, and I’ve known Logan for the past four years, but Kali, Gloria and Kyle were an absolute pleasure to coach and be around this summer. These are six of the funniest and easy going people a coach could ask for. I wondered how they would get along considering we had six kids from four different schools, but they all got along like they had known each other for years. And what was better was they cheered for each other and joked around all week at practice and matches. It was just great to see, and that’s why as a coach you love this stuff.
“To see kids make memories and just enjoy the experience is what it’s all about. I’ll miss it but there’s always next summer, and I’m looking forward to going back and maybe even bringing back a trophy next time.”