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Irish dominant again at state tennis tourney

Lawrence Pierce
Charleston Catholic's Claire Hamilton returns a shot during her match at No. 1 singles Friday at the state high school tennis tournament.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The boys were perfect and the girls were imperfect, but Charleston Catholic got the same result both ways - a state tennis championship clinched a day early.

On Friday, the Irish captured their eighth straight boys Class AA-A championship and ninth in 10 years, and did so in dominating fashion. The boys have yet to lose a match, scoring as many points as they have yielded games (15).

The girls captured their sixth state title in a row, but have registered "only" 12 points. They lost in three spots - No. 2 and No. 4 singles, and No. 3 doubles - but nobody can catch them. There is a spirited battle for runner-up, with Ravenswood and Ritchie County (seven) ahead of Bridgeport (six) and Oak Glen (five).

"I'm happy for the kids, of course," said Catholic coach David Sadd. "Individually, there are some seniors I'd like to have seen do better on the girls side. I really wanted Jenny Borman, who worked hard, I wanted to see here get through the [No. 4] singles draw and the No. 3 doubles. That was tough.

"But I don't want to dwell on the losses. Once we win these titles, I focus on the kids individually. It's nice to win and watch quality seniors accomplish what they've accomplished in the last four years."

Mark Cassis led the boys assault with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Madonna's Nick Conforti in No. 1 singles, and will face an old rival, Max Meade of St. Joseph. Meade downed Cassis in the 2012 finals, but Cassis has beaten Meade this spring.

Meade also had a 6-0, 6-1 victory, over Williamstown's Luke Flanagan.

The other finalists are Scott Standish at No. 2, Jad Malas at No. 3 and Tanner Whipkey at No. 4, with Cassis and Malas at No. 1 doubles, Standish and Zach Casto at No. 2 and Ben Canfield and Noah Cable at No. 3.

On the girls side, Claire Hamilton is shooting for her fourth state title, but the first at No. 1. She won the No. 4 title as a freshman, and played second fiddle to Mary Emma Maddox in her sophomore and junior seasons.

She took out Joanna Capito of Wheeling Central on Friday, 6-3, 6-0, and will take on Alexis Alastanos of Bridgeport today.

"I'm excited. I'd like to get my own title at one," Hamilton said. "I think I've been playing pretty solid. I'm excited for tomorrow. I don't know what will happen, but hopefully it goes my way. I think I've been playing solid."

Christina Centofani was upended by Ravenswood's Taylor Youell in the No. 2 semifinals, but Danielle Sadd landed in the No. 3 finals. Hamilton and Sadd advanced to the No. 1 doubles final, with Centofani and Ellie Grubb playing for the No. 2 title.

To say this group has had a distinguished career is an understatement. Catholic's state tournament players have combined for 31 state singles and doubles trophies.

"I have 10 seniors I'm going to miss," Sadd said.

Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.


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