CHAPMANVILLE — The Chapmanville Middle School tennis team overcame a lot of obstacles this season.
The program lost seven of their eight girls and three of their five boys to the high school team, a group that compiled a 31-5 girl’s record and 23-13 boy’s record over the past three seasons.
Many expected this season to be a rebuilding year for the young Tigers as nine of their 16 players were sixth-graders, including several newcomers who had never played tennis.
However, the CMS tennis squad turned this season into another successful campaign. The boys and girls teams both won their conference titles over Poca, and compiled a 10-5 boys’ record and 8-7 girls’ season, giving the team a winning record in all four seasons of the programs existence.
CMS tennis coach Chris Kidd said he was impressed with his clubs rapid development this season.
“These kids could barely hold a racquet back in June when we started three week practice,” Kidd said. “We couldn’t keep score, we couldn’t get a serve in play, we couldn’t get the ball over the net and some couldn’t even wear the right clothes to practice. But these kids hung tough all year long. I told them at the beginning it was going to be a difficult year, but if they continued to stay positive and listen and not give up on themselves they could succeed and make this a sport they could become known for. And I was very impressed with the work ethic and love for the sport this group showed. I couldn’t have asked for more from such a young group.”
The Tigers were able to conclude their season with a pair of wins over Greenbrier East and Greenbrier West at Coonskin Park which propelled them to their winning season.
Playing in their final middle school matches, all four of the Tigers’ eighth-grade players picked up wins.
The girls’ No. 1 seed Ciera Stowers won in singles 6-1, and also won both of her doubles matches with Charlee Mullins 7-6 (7-5) and 6-1.
Myka Veres was able to team up with Kelsey Lemmon for a 6-3 win in doubles for CMS, while Mackenzie Mullins was able to pick up doubles wins of 6-4 with partner Alexis Belcher, and 7-5 with partner Allison Walls.
The only boy in the eighth grade for the Tigers is No. 1 seed Austin Hanshaw. He was able to win all three of his matches on this day, taking a singles win 6-1, and teaming with Alec Stowers to take 6-0 and 6-3 decisions in doubles.
“I’ll miss my eighth-graders,” Kidd said. “I coached Austin and Myka for two years. Austin has an enormous amount of potential to go as far as he wants in this sport, and he was a good leader this season. Myka was my only returning girl and she got a lot better from last season. I think she’ll continue playing and I hope she does. She’s a goofy but great kid, and she makes life fun. Ciera only played one year but became our one seed and did a phenomenal job leading our girls’ team. I can’t say enough great things about this kid. She works her tail off in everything she does and she wants to do things the right way. In all my years I’ve never seen a player develop as fast as she did this season. She has a chance to do some great things on the high school team.
“Mackenzie Mullins was another first year player who came to us from softball. I thought we wouldn’t have any tennis balls left after the first week because she kept taking softball swings at the ball and busting them over the fence, but she began to listen and became one of our most reliable players by the midway point of the year. She’s another great kid who I think can make this her main sport if she wants to. This was a really nice group, and I hope I get to coach them some in high school as well.”
Other results from the Tigers win over the Greenbrier clubs saw No. 2 seed Alec Stowers take a 6-0 win in singles, No. 4 seed Levi Adkins also won his singles match 6-0, while in doubles Levi Adkins and Preston Dingess were able to pick up a pair of wins by the scores of 7-5 and 6-2.
On the girls side, Charlee Mullins and Emily Gore were 6-1 winners, Walls and Emily Hughes picked up a 6-0 win, and Mackenzie Phipps and Gore were 6-3 winners.
Kidd said this season will only continue to help build what is becoming a successful program in this area.
“I keep saying each year this sport is growing in Chapmanville,” Kidd said. “More and more kids are showing interest and more and more kids are starting to succeed in this sport. We’ve had several kids from Logan and Chapmanville earn scholarships to play in college the past couple of years and we’re seeing more and more kids make the state tournament. I think this year’s Chapmanville high school team has a chance to be even better than the team that sent five to the state tournament two years ago. Chapmanville tennis isn’t becoming a success anymore, I think it is a success and I hope more and more kids want to come and be a part of this sport.”
Kidd also said he couldn’t have had such a great season without the help he received from his tennis parents.
“For four years I’ve been fortunate to have great kids and great parents,” Kidd said. “I can’t thank my parents enough for all of the help and cooperation they provided this season. I don’t have assistant coaches so it makes the job a little more stressful, but they helped me out with travel, food for the kids and helping with all the different request I had. It was just incredible and I can’t thank them enough for making this season fun for me, their kids, and representing our town and school with tremendous class.”