CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston is a town filled with sports fans. In order to get those fans off their keisters, though, athletes performing here must be elite.
Alert to those fans: There are two elite athletes in the ongoing state tennis tournament.
Both represent Huntington High. But, nationally, they also represent West Virginia well.
One is University of Virginia-bound Cassie Mercer, a junior seeking her third straight Class AAA No. 1 title.
If you haven't heard of her, well, it might be because you've talked to her.
"I'm really shy," she said.
She certainly doesn't like talking about herself. Early in her career, she defeated the nation's hottest current junior recruit, Mayo Hibi, but gets mad when her mother Lori brings it up. She's defeated Stanford-bound Caroline Doyle.
Mercer is ranked No. 38 nationally by the Tennis Recruiting Network, but she lets her racket make all the racket. Early Thursday, Buckhannon-Upshur's Erika Ridgeway heard the noise. Ridgeway scored the first point of the match on a return of serve - and then was off the court in a flash, losing 8-0.
Mercer, with ponytail flying and red shoes squeaking, makes short work of most opponents. She's been doing it for a while.
"My parents were both tennis coaches at Marshall," Mercer said. "I've played since I was little."
Her father, John, is the women's tennis coach at Marshall. Her mother was the head coach and then assistant to John before getting out to coach junior players.
"We were there at the tennis courts a lot," Lori Mercer said. "We told Cassie when she was little, 'You can play ... or not.' "
She's played so well, schools lined up to offer scholarships. She quickly decided on Virginia.
"I kind of knew when I went there that's where I wanted to go," Cassie Mercer said. "I visited UNC, Michigan, Duke, Tennessee and Georgia. I decided really early, though."
The other elite athlete is also a Highlander: Hunter Tubert, ranked No. 96 nationally among junior boys. All he did as a high school freshman was win the Class AAA No. 1 title. No. 2 is squarely in sight after an 8-0 Thursday trouncing of John Marshall's Hayden Blazer.
Oh, and kids, if you want to know how to make something of yourself, check out Tubert.