CHAPMANVILLE - The Chapmanville Regional High School tennis program has experienced tremendous success over the past decade.
Enjoying four state champions, two state runner-up finishes, six regional champions, a team regional championship, five team Cardinal Conference championships, seven players with over 100 career wins, 10 consecutive years of appearing in the state tournament, and coming off of an 18-1 and 17-2 campaign last season for the boys and girls.
Tigers first-year head coach Geoff Saunders said he knows there are big shoes to fill for this program.
"As a first-year head coach following in the footsteps of my father, Don Saunders, who coached at CHS/CRHS for 26 years, I knew there were high expectations for our tennis teams," Saunders said. "There were some big shoes to fill. Thus far, I have to say the Tiger tennis team has met these expectations. The girls have only one team loss this year and the boys are improving every match. I am blessed to have a great assistant coach in Chris Kidd, our middle school head coach. He has been around our tennis team a little longer than I have and has really helped the progress of our players. Our number three girl's doubles team, Mackenzie Phipps and Piper Dalton, are currently undefeated in both Cardinal Conference and Region four play. Piper is playing for the first time and I could not be more proud of the effort she has demonstrated on the court. Every boy and girl who plays for us has demonstrated enthusiasm and desire to continue the success of Chapmanville Regional High School Tennis. We look forward to the remainder of the season, including the Cardinal Conference Tournament, Region 4 Tournament, and ultimately, the WV State Tournament."
The Tigers lost seven key seniors off of last year's roster, and were supposed to be in the midst of a rebuilding season, but thus far both teams have overcome their youth, as the girls team has posted a 12-1 mark, while the boys have hit a surge in the past week to up their record to 8-5 on the season.
Assistant coach Chris Kidd and head coach of the Chapmanville Middle School tennis team as well said that losing last year's senior class was tough, but knew that this current group would be ready to step in and compete.
"To go 18-1 and 17-2 in our region last year was an incredible achievement," Kidd said. "To lose so many key players off a boys team that finished third in the state last year and an all-stater in Austin Hanshaw, as well as two other players that had 100 wins in Ciera Stowers and Savannah Toney along with Austin is hard to recover from, but we had some great replacements move up from the middle school team in Emily Carter, Lauren Workman, and Kambell Lemmon who went 14-1 last year in middle school, and we added Piper Dalton who has played very well in her first year with us. And getting Nick Carter back and adding Kody Damron and Casey Adkins has helped give us more depth. Dakota Bell got a lot of experience last year as a freshman and has become a much better player this season, as has Levi Adkins who went to the state finals last year with Austin in doubles.
"Alec has been through the battles and been in the final four the past two years and leads by example. Having Mackenzie Phipps, Allison Walls, and Emily Gore back on the girl's side is a major help with their experience. And for Emily to come back after suffering that devastating ankle injury she had in regionals last year after she had qualified for states just shows her leadership, dedication, and perseverance after such a long and difficult recovery. They've been with me for six years, as have Alec and Levi, so they all know what it takes to succeed. And Mark Spriggs has done a lot to help some of the younger kids in the offseason and working with them one on one on his own time to help them get ready this season, and we all appreciate his help more than he knows."Both teams have swept Mingo Central, Sherman, and Scott this season, as well as picking up a win over Sissonville, while the girls' team has added wins over Huntington St. Joseph, Point Pleasant, Poca, Herbert Hoover, and Nitro.
In more recent matches for the Tigers, the Chapmanville girls' team knocked off Nitro 7-0, as number one seed Emily Gore, a state qualifier last year, knocked off Peyton Mann 8-3, who made the state semifinals in singles two years ago. Number two seed Mackenzie Phipps took home an 8-1 win, number three seed Allison Walls was an 8-3 victor, while number four seed Emily Carter ran away with an 8-0 win.
In doubles, the number one team of Gore and Walls were victorious 8-3, in number two doubles Carter and Lauren Workman breezed to an 8-1 win, and the No. 3 team of Phipps and Piper Dalton won 8-0.
Number one seed and two-time state semifinalist Alec Stowers took an 8-3 decision in singles against Nitro, while Stowers and Levi Adkins teamed up in one doubles to come from behind for a 9-7 win.
Against Mingo Central, the girls' team took the win 7-0, while the boys won 6-1.
For the Lady Tigers, Gore, Phipps, Walls, and Carter all won their singles matches 8-0, while in doubles, Gore and Walls were 8-0 winners, while Carter and Workman and Phipps and Dalton prevailed 8-1 in their respective matches.
On the boys side, the Tigers took a win in singles at the number one spot from Stowers who was an 8-0 winner, Adkins delivered an 8-3 victory in number two singles against the Miners, at No. 3 singles Nick Carter pulled away for an 8-3 win, while Dakota Bell fought for an 8-4 decision in No. 4 singles.
In doubles, the number two team of Carter and Bell won 8-3, while the top team of Stowers and Adkins prevailed 8-0.
The win was especially significant for Stowers, as he became the seventh Chapmanville Tiger all-time to pick up his 100th win for his career, the fastest to ever achieve that goal. He also joined his sister Ciera Stowers in the prestigious group, who reached the same goal last season as a senior. The other members of the 100 wins club for Chapmanville are Hanshaw, Toney, and state champions Haley Justice, Cassidy Lewis, and Myla Bryant, with Bryant and Hanshaw tied for the most wins at 136.
Coach Saunders said he was proud of Stowers for being the fastest to reach this plateau.
"I was extremely proud of Alec for reaching his 100th win and all the hard work he's put in," Saunders said. "He is the fastest to reach the mark and is currently undefeated in singles play this year. He's done so much to make this program and himself proud."
Chapmanville will have a full slate of matches this week, as they host Lincoln County on Wednesday, travel to Poca on Thursday, and host Ravenswood on Friday. All matches will begin at 4:30 p.m.