Tennis season ends at states for Oak Glen
CHARLESTON — Win or lose, every participant in the West Virginia State High School Tennis Tournament has witnessed his or her own shining moments.
From Wheeling Park’s Jitesh Pujara, a freshman who went from unranked at regionals to regional champion, to the drive and determination of Wheeling Central’s Giorgio Alexander, and the enjoyment and the smile on the face of Oak Glen’s Brooke Provenzano, it’s easy to say that the state tournament in Charleston was a success.
Three doubles teams and one individual from Wheeling Park entered Friday with an opportunity to advance to the state final but came up just shy of reaching the summit, while the same went for one doubles team and an individual from Wheeling Central and two doubles teams and an individual from Oak Glen.
Provenzano’s run ended in the No. 3 singles when she dropped a 6-1, 6-0 match to Emily Moore of Winfield.
Provenzano and teammate Ally Brothers were upended by an 8-5 final, while Katie Szymanski and Molly Swartzmiller lost an 8-3 decision to wrap up an outstanding campaign for Oak Glen and they enjoyed every minute of it.
“This has been a terrific trip to the state tournament,” Oak Glen coach Kenneth Keller said. “We have three seniors and brought two down here and they had a great season with a 14-3 record and four regional champions.”
Park’s No. 2 doubles team of Ritika Reddy and Julianna Pond started the day strong with an 8-6 win over Jefferson but in the semifinal contest, the Patriots’ duo fell short by a 6-1, 6-1 decision to a talented Huntington squad.
The doubles team of Abby Jones and Matilda Weeks battled until the end but was finally turned away by Jenin Al-Asadi and Nikita Patel of George Washington by a final of 8-3 to wrap up the girls’ season.
“It was a great experience for them,” Park’s girls coach Stephanie Sada said. “I am happy with how they did and I am glad they got to witness all of this. It gives them great motivation for the future.
“I am especially proud of our seniors, Matilda and Julianna, in their last match with us. It will be different without them because they are both really good players.”
The Park boys’ doubles team of Jared Jorden and Ryan Payne had high hopes entering Friday but A.J. Noel and Michael Phillips of Hurricane pulled off a 8-2 victory over the Patriots in No. 1 doubles action.
Pujara spent all of day-one and most of day-two waiting to take the court in the No. 4 semifinals, so what did he do to pass the time? He played tennis of course. In the rain.
“The guy he was playing against was playing doubles so I told him to go out and hit a little bit so you aren’t sitting around,” Park boys coach Tim Ickes said. “But it was raining and he still wanted to do it anyway. It just shows that he is willing to do what it takes to try to get better.”
In the end, Pujara dropped the match to Jefferson’s Lonnie Briggs by a 6-2, 6-0 count.
“The kid he lost to is a senior,” Ickes said. “I told him, just imagine in three years where you’ll be and how good you can be. I hope he keeps getting the urge to get better in the offseason.
“We had a very successful season and I couldn’t be happier. In five years of coaching, we have gotten better every year. It helps with good players like Jorden and Payne to help lead and set the tone early.
“Everybody improved this year and hopefully we can come back next year and do just a little bit better.”
The Maroon Knights No. 1 doubles team of Alexander and David Agcaoili were locked in an epic battle with Winfield but ultimately fell by a narrow 8-5 score, in what was a learning experience for Agcaoili and the final match for Alexander with his teammate.
“I learned that I have to practice more, play harder and prepare more,” Agcaoili said. “I know what the competition looks like now and that will help me in the future.”
“I am just happy to be here playing with one of my bestfriends,” Alexander added. “Its been the best year for us and the most fun I’ve had. We won regionals together and only lossed one during the regular season.”
Alexander later dropped a pair of sets to Nash Morris of Parkersburg Catholic 6-1 and 6-3 in his final contest at Central but he has made an impact on the Maroon Knights’ program.
“Giorgio gave it everything he had,” Central coach Peggy Dailer said. “He played his heart out in his last match at Central and he has worked hard from the time he was a little boy until now. He should be very prouf of himself.
“I think he will help David a lot. They are really good friends and they will play together this summer. They did not lose the match (Friday), the other team won the match and now that David can see what it’s like here, he will know what he has to work toward.”