PREP TENNIS: Close friends surging through state tourney draw

Craig Cunningham/Daily Mail
Nitro’s Shane Dempsey.
Craig Cunningham/Daily Mail
Riverside’s Erin Hendricks.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Huntington’s Hunter Tubert and George Washington’s Ryan Massinople travel the country together playing doubles in national tournaments.

They hope the state tournament road leads to a championship matchup at No. 1 singles.

Tubert and Massinople each won 16 of 17 games during Thursday’s Class AAA singles matches at the Charleston YMCA. Tubert defeated Jefferson’s Kaleb Lochnor, 8-0, in 27 minutes and then John Marshall’s Hayden Blazer, 8-1, to advance to Friday’s semifinal against Martinsburg’s Carter Davis. Massinople beat Morgantown’s Killian Stappen, 8-1, in 29 minutes and later Logan’s Austin Thomas, 8-0, to move into the final four against Parkersburg’s Alexander D’Costa.

If Tubert and Massinople win Friday, they’ll meet in Saturday’s state final. Not that either player is looking ahead.

“We’re good friends and we know each other’s games pretty well,” said Massinople, a senior. “It’ll be a fun match ... if it happens.”

Added Tubert: “He is a great friend of mine. We’ve been best friends for a long time. Every once in a while we’ll have to play each other in a tournament, which is a little iffy because we don’t like that. But when we win a doubles tournament together, we love it. West Virginia isn’t known for its tennis, so it surprises people.”

Tubert defeated Martinsburg’s Grant Davis, older brother of Carter, in last season’s No. 1 singles final. It was Tubert’s second consecutive state title.

Massinople lost a three-set match to Grant Davis in the No. 1 singles semifinals last season.

They’ve each got to survive Friday, though.

Tubert and Massinople have traveled to Florida, Arizona, Las Vegas, Wisconsin and Michigan for tournaments. There are few secrets.

“We always have good matches,” Tubert said, a junior. “He always has a chance to beat me.”

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RIVERSIDE’S ERIN HENDRICKS ended her high school career with a loss in Thursday’s No. 1 singles opening round, but she heads to college with more than she ever thought possible.

Hendricks was ousted, 8-1, by Morgantown’s Abby Rosiello, ending an impressive run for the W.Va. State-bound player. Hendricks reached the state tournament three consecutive years. She was Riverside’s only state tournament representative this season.

“I think I’ve grown a lot in tennis,” said Hendricks, who has signed to play tennis for the Yellow Jackets. “All the practice in the offseason has really helped me and just working day-to-day to compete with these girls.”

Hendricks is a self-taught player who advanced from third doubles as a freshman to Riverside’s top player each of the last two seasons. Her father and coach, Greg Hendricks, has watched the growth over the last four seasons.

“From the time she was a freshman, my first year I coached, to where she is now ... I haven’t been able to beat her since she was a sophomore,” Greg Hendricks said. “She’s grown tremendously and what’s going to make her better is the competition at West Virginia State next year. I’m real interested to see how she’s going to do with better coaching, better competition.”

Erin Hendricks finished the regular season 7-2 and won nearly 30 games the past three seasons in singles play.

“There’s no doubt what she did in tennis she has parlayed into her education,” Greg Hendricks said. “By being a self-taught player, she learned a lot of discipline and drive all by herself. That makes me extremely proud.”

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THE KANAWHA VALLEY had 31 qualifiers in the state tournament field, including three schools with just one representative. In addition to Erin Hendricks, Nitro’s Shane Dempsey and Capital’s Parker Boughton were part of the 16-person boys field at Class AAA No. 1 singles.

Their stays were also brief.

Boughton, the first match of the day, lost 8-0 to Parkersburg’s Alexander D’Costo. Dempsey, a hard-hitting lefty, lost to Martinsburg’s Carter Davis, 8-4.

GW qualified its entire boys and girls teams. The Patriots’ boys team has all seven positions left heading into play Friday after going a combined 4-0 on Day 1. GW’s boys had players receive first-round byes at No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles. No. 4 singles, No. 2 doubles and No. 3 doubles open play on the second day of the tournament.

Hurricane’s girls were also unscathed on the first day of state play. The Redskins went a combined 6-0, winning at all four positions in which they qualified.

Charleston Catholic’s boys team qualified all seven positions into the Class AA/A field and went undefeated Thursday. The Irish’s No. 1 singles player, Noah Cable, won twice to advance to the semifinals despite losing a combined 10 games. No. 2 singles player Andrew Jones didn’t surrender a game in a pair of 8-0 wins.

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