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GW boys on cusp of Class AAA tennis title

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- George Washington is closing in on its first boys tennis Class AAA team championship in three years, but the Patriots have a little work to do.

For the Huntington girls, their third straight AAA championship is in the bag and they need only enjoy their four final matches today. The real race on that side is for the runner-up trophy, with resurgent Hurricane jostling with Morgantown and Parkersburg.  

As for the Patriot boys, they have six shots today to score one point, maybe two, and remain clear of Parkersburg. On Friday, they rebounded nicely from Ryan Massinople's tough defeat in No. 1 singles to land in the finals of the other six positions.

All 28 championship matches, AAA, AA-A boys and girls, take place today at the Schoenbaum Tennis Courts in Kanawha City. The first matches - No. 1 and No. 2 singles - take the court at 8 a.m.

In case of wet courts, action will move across the street to the Tennis Indoor Center. As of Friday night, the forecast favored that, at least in the morning.

GW has 14 points to 11 for Parkersburg and Huntington. The Big Reds have four finalists, all against GW, and the Patriots would score the 15th and clinching point with just one win in those matches.

GW faces Huntington in the No. 1 doubles, a difficult assignment with Massinople and Zach Koenig facing the tough team of Hunter Tubert and Campbell Neighborgall, The teams also square off in No. 2 doubles, with Nick Koenig and Thomas McIntosh facing Austin Preece and Charles Jenkins.

The reason Huntington cannot win the team title: If the Highlanders win their three matches and GW loses all six to give both 14 points, that will necessarily mean Parkersburg sweeps their four finals (again, all against GW) to finish with 15 points. Huntington cannot force a tiebreaker.

One scenario in which Parkersburg and GW could tie at 15: GW wins at No. 2 doubles but loses all four matchups with Parkersburg. The Big Reds would then win a tiebreaker based on number of position championships, 4-1.

In the GW-Parkersburg matchups, the Patriots will have Zach Koenig at No. 2 singles against Alexander D'Costa, Nick Koenig at No. 3 against Tristram Spitsnaugle and at No. 4 with McIntosh facing Josh Roberts.

Tubert is a prohibitive favorite to win his second No. 1 singles final in a row, facing Martinsburg's Grant Davis. Davis grinded out a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 semifinal win over Massinople, breaking serve at 5-5.

Massinople and Zach Koenig turned the tables on Martinsburg's Grant and Carter Davis in the No. 1 doubles semifinals, winning 6-1, 6-2.

"It was a good match," GW coach Chris Luckett said of the 2-hour, 30-minute singles match. "What can you say?"

On the girls side, Hurricane placed three finalists - Vivian Yao at No. 2, Lindsay Goff at No. 3 and the third doubles team of Ashley White and Paige Phillips. Semifinal losses at No. 1 and No. 4 singles prevented a run at Huntington, which clinched with 12 points.

At the top singles, Kayla McKnight ran into Morgantown's Stephanie Arnold, the senior who made her first No. 1 final after three trips to the semifinals.

"She's been a little under the weather," said Morgantown coach Ted Greenlee. "She has improved and she's more consistent than she was when she was a freshman. ... Stephanie's mom said she was going to buy her a new pair of shoes if she wins."

If Arnold can beat Huntington standout Cassie Mercer today, she would deserve her own shoe factory. In three matches, Mercer has yielded two games, both to Parkersburg's Cassandra Powell in the semifinals.

Mercer helped the Highlanders amass 12 points, good enough to clinch the championship. In the runner-up derby, Hurricane has eight points and Parkersburg and Morgantown are tied with seven.

"Rachel Subik [No. 3] has played outstanding," said Huntington coach Joanie Poole. "She had a tough match today, she stuck with it and kept her focus. Our [No.] two doubles team, Katie Huck and Lauren Mahaney, they're doing fabulous. And of course, Braddick [Price] and Cassie, they had a tough match today [but still won 6-3, 6-1]. Morgantown played excellent."

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


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