CHAPMANVILLE — The Chapmanville Regional High School tennis program has been up and coming for the past five years.
Chapmanville has had some success on the hardcourts in recent years, finishing in the top three in regional play, qualifying the most players for the state tournament in school history and posting the best record in school history two separate seasons.
CRHS, however, has never seemed to be able to compete with the elite programs in the state.
The Chapmanville girls’ tennis team pulled off a stunning upset of Class AA/A six-time defending state champion Charleston Catholic 4-3 at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Facility earlier this week and the Lady Tigers are still basking in the limelight. They left Catholic wondering how they were beaten on their home courts by a former doormat in the region.
Longtime Chapmanville head coach Don Saunders was in amazement over achieving a first in his program’s history.
“I’ve been here 22 years and we’ve never beat them,” Coach Don Saunders said. “This is an incredible achievement for our team. I’m so proud of these kids. They’ve put in a lot of work to get to this level and I think we have a team that can make a run at states in their positions. It’s a really exciting time right now.”
CRHS assistant coach Geoff Saunders was equally impressed with how the girl’s team was able to pull off the program changing win.
“This is a huge step for us,” Geoff Saunders said. “I don’t think people should be too surprised though. If you look at our feeder system at the middle school and what Chris (Kidd) has accomplished with these kids it’s not very shocking. We start five freshmen in our top 12 on the boys and girls team and they’ve been battle tested in middle school, so they were ready for this. I think we have a great chance to compete for a state title at a few positions this year.”
Chapmanville Middle School head coach and CRHS assistant coach Chris Kidd said this is something the program has been building toward since he started coaching in the area.
“This was a day we had been building toward since I arrived, but to beat such an incredible program with the kids I’ve been coaching since they were in sixth grade makes it even more special,” Kidd said. “I know many people don’t follow tennis in this area of the state that closely, but this is a monumental win for our program. Their boys have won eight straight state titles and their girls have won six straight. When I got here we had kids that couldn’t keep score and didn’t know how to hold their racquets the right way. I can’t begin to explain how improbable this seemed five years ago, but these kids have just wanted to improve and work since day one. They are so much fun and so easy to cheer for. I’m really happy for them and for Don to finally get this win. I’ve said for a couple of years this group had a chance to be special, and they let it be known that we’re not up and coming anymore, we’re here.”
The last time a Logan County team defeated Charleston Catholic was in 2003, when the Logan Wildcats, a team Kidd was an assistant coach for as well, won the state title. Since then public schools have been dominated by private schools like Charleston Catholic, Parkersburg Catholic and Huntington St. Joe, all of which are in Chapmanville’s region.
“We received no favors with our new regional draw,” Kidd said. “I thought it was unfair and still believe it is unfair. Our region is a nightmare to play in. Four or Five of the top teams in Class AA/A are in our region and somehow this public school has managed to finish second and thidr these past two seasons. We just have tough kids who love to prove people wrong. It really is us against the world and all of our players the past five years have accepted the challenge instead of backing away from it. And we are so young I think they don’t totally realize what they did yet, but this is right at the top of accomplishments you can have at this level of tennis.”
The Tigers have only three seniors on both their boys and girls rosters, which means they are returning and bringing up more talent each year.
“Our middle school program has been tremendous,” Kidd said. “We’ve won three conference titles in four years and had a winning record each year. Unfortunately not all of those kids moved up with us. A few chose not to play or participated in other sports, which was sad because they were becoming great players too, but they helped build the program as well. But our feeder system is paying dividends. When you start five freshman and they play like they’re seniors that is a huge advantage and we have several boys and girls moving up next year that are going to make the team even stronger. Don was right. It’s an exciting time to be a part of Chapmanville tennis.”
The Chapmanville girls picked up wins in No. 3 singles by sophomore Lasya Pidaparthi 8-0, and No. 4 singles by freshman Myla Bryant 8-0.
The Tigers also took the No. 2 girls doubles match, as junior Haley Justice and freshman Cassidy Lewis cruised to an 8-1 win, while the No. 3 doubles team of Bryant and Freshman Sara Lambert rolled to an 8-0 win against Charleston Catholic. The Irish were able to take the No. 1 and No. 2 singles matches, as well as No. 1 doubles.
The Chapmanville girls have also picked up wins this season against regional foes such as Scott (6-0), Mingo Central (6-1), and Sherman (7-0).
In those matches the Lady Tigers picked up wins from Justice, senior Sravya Pidaparthi, Lasya Pidaparthi, Bryant, Lambert, Lewis, freshman Samantha Williams and sophomore Rebecca McKinney.
Thus far the Chapmanville boys have picked up wins against Mingo Central (6-1), and a walkover against Sherman, while falling in a tight match to the Skyhawks.
The Tiger boys club picked up wins from senior Max Spradlin, sophomore Colton Townsend, freshman Brycen Kuenzel, senior Donovan Abraham, sophomore Cody Saunders, freshman Josh Miller, sophomore Austin Evans and sophomore Devan Copley.
The Tigers have a full slate of matches this week, as they take on Scott at home on Monday, travel to Sherman and Parkersburg Catholic on Tuesday and Wednesday, and host Williamstown on Thursday before concluding their week by traveling to face Spring Valley. All matches are set to begin at 4 p.m.