CHARLESTON - The Charleston Catholic juggernaut continued to roll toward another pair of state tennis championships Friday. But there were a few bumps in the road thanks to a trio of girls from Hancock County.
Oak Glen's Madison Juszczak and the duo of Lauren Pizzurro and Madison Hill will play for state championships today after posting semifinal triumphs against the Irish in what turned into a rainy day in the capital city.
Wheeling Central will also be participating in "Championship Saturday" thanks to the No. 2 Doubles tandem of Daniel Lee and Gus Schmidt.
Action begins at 8 a.m. at the Kanawha City Community Center's Schoenbaum Courts.
Friday's action at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Complex started under sunny skies. But just after 2 p.m. thunderstorms rolled in forcing action to be moved down the hill to the Charleston Family YMCA.
A number of matches were halted to make the move, including Juszczak's No. 4 Singles tilt against Jenny Borman.
No matter. Juszczak, a freshman, came away with an impressive straight-sets (6-3, 6-1) victory and will face Keyser's Kari Amtower for the title.
"That was my main goal and I got there," an emotional Juszczak said.
She added the move indoors was a bit of an adjustment, but in the end had little to do with the result.
"She is a very good player," Juszczak said of Borman. "It's been just an amazing experience.
"It really goes to show that hard work pays off."
The victory came as little surprise to Golden Bears coach Ken Keller.
"It was a long, tough match, but she finished it," he said.
Keller was also pleased with the Pizzurro-Hill tandem, which downed Borman and Anna Whelan, 7-5, 6-4.
That duo will battle Keyser's Amtower and Megan Freeburn for the No. 3 Doubles championship.
Keller credited assistant coach Everett Spurlock for helping his team reach it's championship potential. "Pappy Spurlock,'' as he's known to the team, is the grandfather of OG's Haley Spurlock.
"He has been involved in practices, matches, everything," Keller said. "The girls love him and I really appreciate him."
Schmidt and Lee rallied for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory against Williamstown's Ryan Leo and Alex Gedon to set up a final against Charleston Catholic's Scott Standish and Zach Casto.
Schmidt and Lee opened Friday with an 8-1 victory against Independence's Josh Borelli and Caleb Pell.
No one was more happy than Lee, a South Korea native, who has played tennis at Central for three years.
"During that second game we were down, but we came out, we were strong, and had a determination to win. Everything turned out good.''
Maroon Knights coach Peggy Dailer praised Schmidt's serving prowess in the triumph and Schmidt said he used that to help overcome some mistakes.
"It was a tough match, but we were able to come back and win and that's what matters,'' he said.
The victory closed the day on a high note for Schmidt, who fell Friday morning, 8-0, to Charleston Catholic's Jad Malas in a No. 3 Singles semifinal.
At No. 1 Doubles, Central's Jon Haley and Brett Szeligo lost to Bluefield's Justin Freund and Jose Tarin. Later, the Irish's Ben Canfield and Noah Cable topped Central's Ben Gordon and Billy Teufel in a No. 3 Doubles semi.
The Maroon Knights' Joanna Capito will receive her all-state award today, but she fell in the No. 1 Singles semifinals to CC's Claire Hamilton, 6-3, 6-1.
The Golden Bears' Alli Sayre dropped a 6-1, 6-1 verdict to Charleston Catholic's Danielle Sadd in a No. 3 Singles semi.
Spurlock and Juszczak won their opening No. 1 Doubles match of the day, but later fell to Ravenswood's Taylor Youell and Bess McNabb, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1). OG's No. 2 Doubles pair of Anna Crawford and Sayre also won a match before falling to Bluefield's Molly Lovern and Claire Bailey.
Nick Conforti saw his stellar prep career come to a close. The Madonna senior dropped a 6-0, 6-1 decision to Charleston Catholic's Mark Cassis in a No. 1 Singles semi. His brother, Matt, was eliminated in a No. 2 Singles semifinal, 6-2, 6-1, by Standish.
Cassis and Malas joined forces to oust the Confortis from the No. 1 Doubles bracket with a 6-3, 6-1 victory.