LOGAN - Why not Logan?
That's what Justin Turner and Chad Akers are asking.
Turner, the Logan High School tennis coach, and Akers, an LHS assistant, are spearheading an effort to bring the 2020 Class AA/A state tennis tournament to Logan.
Logan has successfully held the Class AA/A Region 4 tennis tournament the last three years, including this year's event on May 2-4, using the five outdoor courts at Logan High School and the three indoor courts at the Chief Logan Rec Center whenever it rained.
Turner says Logan is only interested in bringing in the Class AA/A state tourney and not both the Class AA/A and AAA tourneys. The state tournament has been held in Charleston for many years at the Schoenbaum Courts at Kanawha City and also at Coonskin Park.
The facilities are there Turner said, and Logan's success in hosting the Region 4 tournament should be seen as a test run.
Logan can be a good host for the state tournament as well, he said, adding that Logan could possibily even partner up with their friends at Chapmanville Regional High School to have additional courts if need be.
"If you include Chapmanville's courts, we would have 12 courts, outdoor and indoor within a 10 to 12 mile radius that you could potentially play on," said Turner, who led his Logan girls' team recently to a regional championship. "We would just look to host the Class AA/A state tournament and Charleston could keep the Triple-A. I understand that we wouldn't be able to host it all. They split it in Charleston anyway. Triple-A is at one location and AA/A is at another location."
The five outdoor courts at Logan, the four at Chapmanville, and the three more indoor courts at the Rec Center are all in excellent condition, Turner said.
"We have five outdoor courts here at Logan with top of line lighting. The board is also looking at redoing the courts if we are able to get the state tournament here and making them even better than what they are," Turner said. "We have the parking, we have the food options and we have the hotels."
Having the three indoor courts is Logan's ace-in-the-hole, Turner said. In case of inclement weather, the Rec Center courts would be at the ready.
"Last weekend in the state tournament at Charleston they were told they had the five indoor courts at the YMCA that they could use and then, all of a sudden, it started raining and we couldn't use those indoor courts and pulled them away from us. That's what can happen when you have tennis clubs. We have all three of these courts at the Rec Center reserved anytime. We don't have to worry about them being taken away."
The Rec Center Courts are a hidden gem, if you will, as still some people are not even aware of their existence.
"There were some parents and fans at the regional tournament that were still not aware that we had the indoor courts," Turner said. "Some still had no clue that we had them. We do have an advantage there."
Akers said the Rec Center courts also have good viewing areas for the fans.
"One other thing about the Rec Center is that there is a a good viewing area on top of the track," he said. "At the indoor courts in Charleston you can see the courts but there's very limited space. At our Rec Center there's the walkway at the top and there's plenty to space for the fans."
The attention to detail and the efficiency the regionals were run at Logan did not gone unnoticed.
In short, the visiting tennis athletes, players and fans were treated very well and taken care of, Turner said.
"Not only was the tournament a model of efficiency, the LHS coaches and staff provided exceptional hospitality. The sheer volume of the matches can cause these tournaments to be quite grueling, but LHS's attention to detail insures that this event is enjoyable for everyone," wrote Sam Hilton, the Ravenswood High School head coach in a letter to the editor in a recent issue of The Logan Banner.
A total of 15 tennis teams converged on Logan for this year's regionals and 167 matches were played at both venues.
"Our team travels two hours to Logan for this event, but we look forward to the regional tournament each of the three years LHS has hosted because we know how hard the LHS coaches and staff work to make it special," Hilton said. "From the comments we hear from other teams and coaches, it's obvious that LHS's reputation as an outstanding host is secure. We would like the citizens of Logan County to know that the exceptional efforts of the LHS team, coaches, staff and parents make the Regional tennis tournament an event of which the entire county can be proud."
Akers said Logan took pride in hosting the regional tournament and would do the same at the state level.
"We hear a lot from people from our region and from people out of our region on how we do the regional tournament. We get approached from people who want us to host the state tournament," he said.
Akers said a lot of people worked together to make the regional tournament run as smoothly as it did.
"We've got help from the Logan County Board of Education, the Logan County Commission and the high school. Everyone has come together and has worked on this," he said. "We've hosted up to 15 teams the last three years. We've got a lot of community support with it. We've talked to the hotels and Chief Logan Lodge. They give all of the teams special rates at the hotels. We asked for corporate money from our sponsors. All that we get from them we put back into the community. We buy gifts for every kid that plays. We furnish food. Thornhill (Superstore) came one day and supplied lunch one day for all of the players, parents and spectators. The Shriners came the next day and cooked. In the evenings people were free to go to any of the restaurants in town."
Akers said the tennis tourney is also a boon to the local economy.
"It does bring thousands of dollars into our area over the couple days," he said. "We would like to put in a bid to get the state tournament because with the state tournament there could be thousands of more dollars. We could probably fill up all of the hotel rooms in Logan over a two or three day period if we could get it."
"It's a good opportunity economically as well," he said. "Just for us to have it at Logan and have homecourt advantage is not what we are looking at. That's not the case."
Akers said it could help local business.
"There were 20-some rooms at the lodge that were booked," he said. "People also booked cabins and hotel rooms. It was as boost to the local economy. It benifited the restaurant owners as well. We provided lunch but we also saw everything from Chiricos, pizza and KFC brought back onto the island."
Akers said there will be more cabins, in addition to the ones that are already in place, that will be available for rent as well.
"There will be some more cabins ready by then too," he said. "The Appalachian Outpost is being built and there will be 20 cabins available."
Added Akers, "We have a lot more (lodging) than what most people think."
Turner said the way Logan hosted the regional tourney was also done in a fan-friendly and player-friendly manner.
"One other thing that we had in the regionals that they did not have in Charleston was text alerts," Turner said. "Most everybody has got a cell phone. We sent out text alerts for each match that's going on or whether you are on deck. We also utilize Facebook. All they had over there was Twitter which not as many people have or check. If there was a rain delay, or a change of location, it was hard to keep up with."
Hilton said the hospitality at Logan was unmatched.
"Under their direction, 15 tennis teams played 167 matches in three days, rain or shine," he said. "With assistance from Thornhill Auto Group and the Shriners, the players, coaches and spectators received free meals and snacks, and the restrooms were stocked with all the 'extras' the players could need when away from home."
Turner said Akers and Tournament Director James Barker did a great job in running the Region 4 Tournament at Logan earlier in the month.
"Chad really makes it happen so I can just go coach," Turner said. "James Barker directed our tournament and made sure everything flowed."
Logan would have to make an official bid to the WVSSAC to host the 2020 tournament. The SSAC would then have to make a decision.
There is a precedent for recent venue moving for a state tournament.
This year, the WVSSAC approved the moving of the state cheerleading tournament from Charleston to Huntington. That will take effect next school year as Huntington is scheduled to host the state cheer competition. It had been held at the Charleston Civic Center for many years.
"It is time for bidding. They moved the cheerleading to Huntington now for next year," Turner said. "We kind have mentioned it to them (SSAC) and they said you only have eight courts but we told them we aren't interested in Triple-A we just want the Double-A and Single-A. They've always had the state tournament at Charleston."
Logan High School has hosted major events in the past.
In the 2000s, Logan High School and Midelburg Island hosted the annual Massey Picnic as thousands of Massey Energy employees an their families enjoyed a carnival-like atmosphere with games, food and fun and concerts from various country music acts including Hank Williams Jr., Crystal Gayle and others.
"We have a pride to show off our place. We don't get too many opportunities to do that," Turner said. "All you hear about is the negativity but this could be something really positive for everyone to jump on board to help with. We can do it."
Paul Adkins is the sports editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner or email him at email@example.com.