CHAPMANVILLE — It was an impressive season for the Chapmanville Regional High School tennis team.
But it’s not over yet.
Chapmanville’s five state tournament qualifiers hope to perform well this Friday at the Class AA/A state meet in Charleston.
Senior Emily Stroud, the No. 1 girls player for Chapmanville, qualified in singles.
Seniors and No. 1 girls doubles players Allie Carter and Kylie Clay qualified for state as well. This is Clay’s second trip to the state tournament. Last year, she qualified in singles play. Clay is the first girl in Chapmanville Regional High School history to play in the state tournament in singles and doubles.
Tigers’ senior Seth Deskins, the No. 1 boys singles player, qualified in singles.
Sophomore Kishan Patel, the No. 3 boys player, made it to state in singles, while the No. 1 boys doubles team of Deskins and Patel qualified as well.
It’s the first time in Chapmanville Regional High School history a male player has qualified in singles and doubles for the state tournament in the same year.
Carter said she’s excited to be in the state tournament field.
“I’m beyond excited to qualify with my doubles partner (Kylie Clay). In our region of the state, there are loads of tough competitors, and it’s a rush to be considered one of the best in the region,” Carter said. “I never expected to make it this far. Tennis was just a hobby that grew into something much more. Over time, I really got competitive. I wanted to win, and when I didn’t win, it bothered me. I’ve constantly been striving to get better. The biggest difference in my game is definitely my defensive skills. In tennis, if you can get the ball back in play, that’s half the battle. My attitude has become more positive. It’s easy to give up when you’re down a few points, but I’ve really tried to work on keeping a positive mindset during my matches.”
Carter said she plans on attending the University of Charleston and will major in Biology/Chemistry.
Clay said she’s also excited to be playing in the state tourney for the second straight year.
“It feels amazing,” she said. “My goal from the beginning of the season was to make the state tournament again. I’m just so thankful that I had encouragement and support through the whole thing. It feels great to reach my goals. Last year I went in singles. This year is just doubles. However, the biggest difference is the change in myself. The beginning of the season was tough, but me and Allie picked each other up and got each other’s backs so often that anything is possible with us now. We’ve both realized that without each other nothing positive in accomplished.”
Clay said she played with more purpose and drive this spring.
“The biggest difference in my game is my will to win. I wasn’t just swinging to swing,” she said. “I had a purpose with my swing. The difference in our team is that we all wanted it more this year than we ever have. We all worked hard and went hard every point.”
Clay said she’s headed to Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Ky., to play tennis for Coach Mary Turner.
“I intend on going into college undecided on my major. I want to be so many things, it’s crazy,” Clay said.
Deskins said he is also thrilled to play in the state tennis tournament.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” he said. “I honestly can’t believe that I’ve come this far and had this much success. I truly am thankful for all that has happened. I started playing tennis last year. My reason for playing was because of a girl. That didn’t work out, but tennis sure did. Yes, I thought that we would have a good season. I always knew that we had a great team. The biggest difference from this year and last year is my work ethic. Hard work pays off, and it shows in the win column.”
Deskins said he plans on attending UC.
“So far, I am planning on studying biochemistry and hopefully going to Medical school after undergraduate school,” he said.
Like his teammates, Patel said he’s happy to be able to have a chance to play in the state tourney.
“It feels like I have accomplished a milestone, which no one in the history of the school has ever done,” Patel said. “But I don’t want to be overconfident and lose in the state tournament. I want to go even farther and win it all. I feel like all the practice days in spring paid off. For all of the wins in the regional and regular season I want to thank my parents, Coach (Don) Saunders, Coach (Chris) Kidd, my doubles partner Seth Deskins and all my tennis friends who supported me.”
Patel, a native of India, said he’s only played tennis for a couple of years.
“I started playing tennis two years ago back in my home country of India,” he said. “I started playing because I thought it would be a fun sport to play, and also I was getting bored during my vacation. So I thought let’s try something new in life.”
Patel said he has plans on becoming a doctor.
“I am planning on becoming a doctor after high school because I want to save people’s lives,” he said. “I would like to attend Ohio State University or West Virginia University. I will also take a lot of Biochemistry classes in college and high school just to improve myself.”
Chapmanville coach Don Saunders, now in his 21st season, said it’s been a memorable spring.
“I have had very good teams in the past, but never a boys and a girls team with such talent,” Saunders said. “In past years one team eclipsed the other with ability, but these athletes that play tennis as a group are my best overall team. These players are very serious about the game. They practice nearly every day. Any day you check after school the players will be on the court. They connect well with each other in doubles. Having the same partners for two years definitely has its advantages.
“There is no way to describe the excitement of having a super successful year. Using individual games the boys were 77-30 and the girls were 94-24. No one had a record less than 0.625. They are an impressive group of players.”
Chapmanville’s tennis team has also got the job done this year in the classroom.
Seven CRHS tennis players — Stroud, Carter, Clay, Eli DesRocher, Deskins, Lowell Midkiff and Lonnie Lucas — have all been named Valedictorians for the Class of 2012.
“That’s a heck of an accomplishment,” Chapmanville assistant coach Chris Kidd said. “That speaks to the type of group we had this year and the last three years here. Their work ethic has been unmatched and something I’ve been extremely proud of. They are all involved in some extra curricular activities and clubs beyond tennis and it shows the type of people they are. Their hard work even showed on the tennis court. We are in no way the most fundamental tennis team you’ve ever seen. In fact, sometimes it’s down right ugly to watch. But this group got by on guts and determination. And sometimes that’s all you need.”
Stroud was unavailable for comment.