Most of the usual suspects lead the team standings after the first day of the state tennis tournament, but an unexpected entry is dotting the top of the girls Class AA-A field.
Yes, that's Poca sitting up there with favored Charleston Catholic, both with five points. The Dots had a nearly perfect day, winning all five matches for which they qualified.
"We're kind of new on the radar," said third-year coach Kim Sigman. "We have some country girls who can play. We had one girl with a brother [on the boys team] and she thought, 'Hey, I could beat him.' She started playing and some friends followed her. She's our No. 1 now."
That No. 1 is Molly Ballard, who advanced to the semifinals for the second year in a row. She will play Ariel Shuman of Parkersburg Catholic today as finalists will be determined in all seven positions.
Play resumes at 8 a.m. today at the Schoenbaum Courts in Kanawha City (AA-A) and Coonskin Park (AAA).
Ballard gave up just one game in her two matches, while Courtney Mobley gave up two in her rounds at No. 2. Ballard and Julia Celorio rung up Bluefield 8-1 in the first round of No. 1 doubles.
"The only thing that surprised me was the scores," Sigman said. "I thought we had the ability to win matches, but I didn't know we could win 8-0, 8-1.
While the Dots already have matched their 2011 state tournament total of five points, they know their odds are long on staying with Catholic. They finished second to a perfect Irish team in regionals, failing to qualify at the No. 3 and No. 4 singles, plus No. 3 doubles.
But the Dots wouldn't have to see the Irish in any position until the finals, and look to pick up a few points today. Mobley faces Wheeling Central's Joanna Capito, Ballard and Celerio take on a Liberty Harrison team and the No. 2 team of Mobley and Molly Arthur starts play against Bluefield.
Catholic recorded perfect five-point days in both boys and girls, with Bluefield's boys keeping pace for now. George Washington's boys won all their matches to stay with loaded Huntington, and will take a shot at upsetting the Highlanders in the top levels today.
GW's girls suffered a rough day at Coonskin, getting eliminated in the top three singles spots. Parkersburg and University emerged as the challengers to defending champion Huntington, as all three had perfect days. The Big Reds are technically ahead with six points, a function of having to play a first-round match in the 12-team No. 1 doubles bracket.
University is already out at No. 1 singles, as Ally Rees had the misfortune of colliding with Huntington's Cassie Mercer in the quarterfinals (8-0, if you're guessing). Mercer will face Wheeling Park senior C.J. Petrini, a senior who stunned GW freshman Kirsten White 8-2.
Petrini called it one of her most consistent matches, and noticed the talented White showing her youth at times. White was visibly upset afterward, more at herself than anything.