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Kent takes aim at 9th Public Courts title

By By Terry Fletcher
For the Gazette
Eight-time Public Courts winner James Kent reaches up to make a return.

It was business as usual Tuesday for James Kent.

The former Capital tennis standout and No. 1 seed in this year’s Charleston Public Courts tennis tournament dispatched Dominick Centofanti 7-6, 6-4 in the quarterfinal round of the men’s open singles division Tuesday evening at the Schoenbaum Tennis Courts.

Kent, the director for the Ritter Park Tennis Center in Huntington, is going for his ninth Public Courts title after winning his eighth a year ago.

“I think I played well,” said Kent. “I think I made some returns at key points, and I just played solid from the baseline.”

Kent took a 4-1 lead in the first set before Centofanti made things interesting and forced a tie-break. Kent was able to capitalize on a couple costly mistakes by Centofanti to eventually take the set.

“Well, the first set I went up early 4-1, was playing well, and then Dominick really played better and got the break,” said Kent. “But he made a couple mistakes early on and I was able to take over.”

From there, the former WVU player carried all the momentum into the second set and was able to get his serve going to take the victory.

“We traded breaks, traded a couple balls then I just served it out, made a couple big first serves,” said Kent. “But Dominick played well. He made some big shots.”

Centofanti, a former state champion in the Class AA-A No. 2 singles at Charleston Catholic, pushed Kent early but was never able to get his backhand going.

“It’s never really working for me, I have to slice it a lot,” he said. “But other than that, I was playing about as well as I could. A little bit more and I could have had it.”

Although he was squaring off with arguably the best player in the tournament, Centofanti welcomed the challenge.

“It’s really fun, he’s a great player, and I go in with almost no pressure,” he said. “ If I lose, then I lost to the No. 1 seed. If I win, then it’s an amazing win.”

Some of that confidence may have caught Kent by surprise in the early set.

“I made some errors that I don’t normally make, but I think those were attributed to Dominick’s good play,” said Kent. “He had me behind the baseline and when usually I’m dictating, he kind of dictated, so he played well.”

A few other top seeds in the men’s open singles were in action Tuesday evening. Second-seeded Patrick Walker advanced past Matt Sherba 6-0, 7-6, while third-seeded Mark Cassis was upset by No. 7 seed Ryan Massinople 6-3, 7-5.

“It’s high-quality competition, guys want to win,” said Walker. “It’s tennis. You gotta come out and want it. It’s very, very competitive.”

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