Irish boys complete perfect week at state tennis tourney
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You could say St. Joseph's Max Meade stayed under Charleston Catholic's Mark Cassis' skin for a full 12 months.
Did that work to Meade's favor? Hardly.
Cassis roared to 6-4, 6-0 victory in the No. 1 singles championship at the state tennis tournament Saturday, avenging a three-set loss to Meade a year ago.
"That match never left my mind," the senior said. "I'm glad I was able to pull it out this year. I mean, he's a tough player, but I was playing really well today. It feels great to bring it home this year."
Cassis' victory launched the Catholic boys' run of seven straight position titles and a perfect 22 points for the tournament. The domination was so complete, the Irish gave up just 13 points in the seven matches.
Meade picked up four of those in the first set against Cassis, but that was it. In four matches between the two this year, Meade has noticed a difference in his rival's play, one that hasn't work in his favor.
Cassis won all four matches, including the relatively easy two-setter Saturday.
"[He is] a whole lot more consistent. Keeps the ball on the court more," Meade said. "Last year, I could play the point out and he'd miss it halfway through the point. But now he's way more under control."
Cassis tended to agree: "I try to rely on my consistency. I try to hit it hard, but when I do it usually goes outside. I keep it in and wait for my opponent to make a mistake."
The Irish boys didn't make many mistakes, down to the No. 3 doubles team of Ben Canfield and Noah Cable. They downed Bluefield's Paul Hoffman and Tyler Myers for the 22nd team point, the mark of perfection.
"We've got a lot of good players. I played with these kids pretty much my whole life," said Cable, a junior. "I'm sad to see them go, but I've got to really work on my game and be the No. 1 seed that this team needs."
Yes, he said No. 1, a lofty goal in a loaded Irish program, but six seniors figured in the week's domination - Cassis at No. 1, Scott Standish at No. 2, Jad Malas at No. 3, Tanner Whipkey at No. 4, Zach Casto on the No. 2 doubles team and Canfield.
Both the boys and the equally senior-laden girls team had clinched team championships on Friday. The Catholic girls won at three positions Saturday to end up with 15 points, compared to eight for Ravenswood. It was the Red Devils' first runner-up finish in program history.
Claire Hamilton and Danielle Sadd accounted for the three points, winning at No. 1 and No. 3 singles, respectively. Hamilton beat Bridgeport's Alexis Alastanos, a senior who had less success when the Indians were a Class AAA team. Sadd also beat a Bridgeport player, Allie Lamm.
Hamilton and Sadd combined to beat Ravenswood's Bess McNabb and Taylor Youell 6-0, 6-1 in No. 1 doubles. The result didn't dim a good week for Youell, whose victory at No. 2 clinched the Red Devils' runner-up finish over Ritchie County.
Sadd, who sat out her junior year to concentrate on academics, confirmed that her old doubles partner helped coax her back onto the team.
"She and my dad [coach David Sadd], they really wanted me to go out this year," she said. "Since it's my senior year and I really, really wanted to go out and be with my team, finish it out strong for my last year."
Hamilton had been eyeing her chance for a No. 1 state title all season, and her 6-2, 6-2 win over Alastanos showed how well she played.
But when the doubles win was complete, the emotion showed. Hamilton, Sadd and their teammates shared the tears of a joyous ending to their high school careers. Hamilton is moving on to play at Queens College of Charlotte, N.C.
"I'm more excited about my doubles," Hamilton said. "Danielle and I have been playing together since we were young, so it meant more to me."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.