Lots of 'bagels' on the menu
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Day one at the state high school tennis tournament is a day for "bagel" games - there were 32, give or take, out of the 112 contests Thursday.
But it's also the day where upstart teams put themselves into position to challenge the sport's bluebloods. Or at least challenge for the runner-up trophy.
Today is the craziest of the three days, when all four singles and three doubles positions in all classes whittle the field down to the finalists. Action starts at 8 a.m. with Class AAA at the Schoenbaum Courts in Kanawha City and Class AA-A playing at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Facility.
A rundown of the team battles and pending showdowns in each class:
Class AAA boys
In what shapes up as possibly the best team battle, George Washington and Huntington took their five available points, with Martinsburg and Parkersburg at four apiece.
If the Big Reds want to be a serious contender, they must reckon with the defending champion Highlanders in all four singles spots plus No. 3 doubles right off the bat today. They may get the power doubles team of Hunter Tubert and Campbell Neighborgall in the No. 1 semifinals, and are nowhere to be found in No. 2 doubles.
Martinsburg faces GW in three singles semifinals today - Grant Davis vs. Ryan Massinople at No. 1, Carter Davis vs. Zach Koenig at No. 2 and Inigo Goiriena vs. Thomas McIntosh at No. 4.
But if the Patriots take care of their business and the Highlanders do the same, they will be set for a showdown on championship Saturday. The teams sit on the far opposite sides of all seven brackets.
Besides the Massinople-Grant Davis match at the prestigious No. 1 spot, Huntington's Tubert faces Parkersburg's Saaman Ghodsi. In No. 1 doubles, Alex Clay and Jordan Chapman remain alive for Hurricane.
Class AAA girls
The upstart Hurricane team is tied 5-5 in its bid to upend defending champion Huntington, with all four singles players in the semifinals - Kayla McKnight at No. 1, Vivian Yao at No. 2, Lindsay Goff at No. 3 and Ashley White at No. 4.
(Note: Only four players are in the No. 4 brackets, and all have one match today.)
The Redskins are safely opposite Huntington in those brackets and the No. 2 doubles, and Huntington did not qualify at No. 3 doubles. Morgantown and University supply the first opposition today.
University delivered the Redskins a major setback Thursday, with Ally and Alyssa Rees downing McKnight and Yao 8-6 in the first round. With Virginia-committed junior Cassie Mercer making up half the Highlanders' doubles team, the Redskins probably lose four points at that position.
Mercer gets Parkersburg's Cassandra Powell in one No. 1 singles semifinal, with McKnight playing Morgantown's Stephanie Arnold in the other.
Class AA-A boys
Williamstown posted five points to match Charleston Catholic, but there is a catch: The Yellowjackets are not qualified in No. 3 and No. 4 singles, plus No. 3 doubles. A runner-up finish is much more reasonable.
Bluefield and Madonna have four points and Bridgeport has three in that derby.
In No. 1 singles, Williamstown's Luke Flanagan has a tough battle with Max Meade of St. Joseph. Meade suffered the day's biggest upset, losing in No. 1 doubles to Wheeling Central 8-5.
In the other No. 1 semifinal, Nick Conforti of Madonna has the assignment of Catholic's Mark Cassis. Cassis "bageled" two opponents Thursday, leading a day in which the Irish boys didn't give up a game in four matches.
Class AA-A girls
Bridgeport, Ravenswood and Ritchie County had strong showings Thursday, scoring four points apiece. All three are generally opposite Charleston Catholic in the brackets in which they are alive - but they're not alive in all of them by any stretch.
Catholic picked up its five points, giving up seven points in four matches. (Oh, will the boys team let the girls hear about that.) Both Irish teams could clinch state titles today, the eighth in a row for the boys and sixth for the girls.
Claire Hamilton takes on Wheeling Central's Joanna Capito in one No. 1 semifinal, with Veronica Mueller of Ritchie County facing Alexis Alastanos of Bridgeport in the other. Capito had one of the tougher matches of the day, beating back Grafton's Hailey Rogers 9-7.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.