If you’d say Charleston Catholic’s girls had as good a chance at winning the state tournament as do the boys, you might only be half-joking.
But realistically, the Irish’s Class AA/A tennis dynasty is up against the turnbuckle. On the boys side, Williamstown is ready to deliver the knockout punch.
The Irish girls — all two of them — are just two points out in a chopped-up race, with both players involved in today’s finals.
The championship round begins at 8 a.m. today at the Schoenbaum Courts at Kanawha City, if those can dry out from Friday’s rains. Players did get some outdoor time Friday, but started and finished the day in the Tennis Indoor Center across the street.
The boys race is more clear-cut: The Yellowjackets own a 13-11 lead, with five finalists playing today. The Irish have four finalists, and the teams face off three times.
The first matchup, at No. 2 singles, stands to be the toughest for the Irish. Andrew Jones is having a fine tournament, but Williamstown’s Aaron Leo has given up just one game this week.
The other two such matches pit Catholic’s Tyler Zubick and Ryan Leo at No. 3 and Jones/Zubick against Ryan Leo and Alex Kingson at No. 2 doubles.
Williamstown’s Luke Flanagan will kick the day off in No. 1 singles, taking on defending champ Max Meade of St. Joseph.
Catholic started Friday with Noah Cable losing to Flanagan in the No. 1 semifinals, and finished with a 6-2, 6-0 loss at No. 3 doubles. As much as anything, those results put the Irish on the road to runner-up.
Coach David Sadd isn’t unhappy with the Irish’s effort, however.
“I’m really satisfied with what we got out of the tournament,” he said. “We weren’t even supposed to be here. We were down in all three doubles matches in the region. Every kid beat somebody who beat them earlier. We got something out of every kid.
“We didn’t lose any matches that we shouldn’t have, and won a few we shouldn’t have won.”
As clear-cut as that race is, the girls AA-A competition is not. You can cautiously say Parkersburg Catholic has the best situation, leading with eight points and having three finalists today.
Bluefield is second, picking up its seventh point in dramatic fashion. Long after all other teams had left, the Beavers’ No. 3 duo of Emma Cole and Camilla Deeb won a 3-hour, 4-minute doubles match against Fairmont Senior’s Eviana Barnes and Jasmine Johnson. The final line was 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).
“They had to have pushed [the importance] out of their minds, because they did come back and win,” said Bluefield coach Cathy Bailey, who was the most nervous of the few left in the indoor building.
That gives the Beavers two finalists, with their top doubles team facing Charleston Catholic’s Cristina Centofanti and Sarah Fox today.
Centofanti, who will play next season at the University of Charleston, begins the day in the No. 1 singles final against Wheeling Central’s Joanna Capito. Capito lost in the 2013 semifinals to Catholic’s Claire Hamilton.
It’s quite possible the Irish can win twice and get to eight points, but having Parkersburg Catholic and Bluefield lose at all their matches seems unlikely. Oak Glen also has six points, but just one finalist.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.