WEST LIBERTY - When the four singles and three doubles championship trophies were handed out at the conclusion of the OVAC Tennis Tournament on Wednesday, not a single one was presented to a Linsly player.
Still, you won't hear any of the Cadets complaining. That's because Linsly walked away from the Edgar Martin Tennis Complex with the one trophy that matters - the Class 1A-4A championship.
Linsly finished with seven points, two better than runner-up East Liverpool. The Potters were tied with Wheeling Central and Indian Creek but won the second-place plaque via a tiebreaker.
Linsly’s Jose Bird rips a backhand during the OVAC Boys’ Tennis Tournament on Wednesday at West Liberty.
Photo by Josh Strope
''They did really well considering we were down this year, or at least weaker than last year,'' Linsly coach Mike Church said. ''Westen Mead had a big win and Jose (Bird) making it to the finals secured the championship.
''I'm pleased with everything they did. It has been a good year.''
Bird was the winner at No. 1 singles last season and at No. 2 in his sophomore campaign. Unfortunately for him, that run of championships came to a halt at the hand of Morgantown's Max Schulz-Mullensiefen.
Schulz-Mullensiefen and Steven Wu (No. 4) were individual winners in leading Morgantown to the Class 5A championship and the overall title. The Mohigans finished with an impressive 22 points, easily outdistancing the 16 scored by Parkersburg South and Cambridge. South won the runner-up title on a tiebreaker.
While Bird had been arguably the story of the tournament a year ago, this time the ''oohs'' and ''ahhs'' were for Schulz-Mullensiefen, a foreign exchange student from Germany.
The two had faced off a couple weeks ago and Schulz-Mullensiefen had his way with Bird. The Linsly senior was able to close the gap as Schulz-Mullensiefen used his powerful serve to keep Bird off-balance and cruise to an 8-2 victory.
''I think Jose played much better this time,'' Church said. ''Jose played well but the kid from Morgantown deserves all the credit. He is just an incredible player. They had some nice points and some of the games could have gone either way, but I was really pleased with Jose's performance.''
Along with Schulz-Mullensiefen and Bird, from Puerto Rico, the No. 1 Singles semifinals featured plenty of international flavor. Schulz-Mullensiefen defeated Wheeling Park's Jacopo Chiarlo, from Italy, and Bird topped Indian Creek's Fabio Mattina, from Germany.
Like his teammate, Wu earned his championship in impressive fashion. The freshman defeated Wheeling Park's Zac Marra, 8-2, in the final.
''This was a good barometer for our region and states,'' Morgantown coach Dan Martinelli said. ''The kids worked real hard. They did a great job.
''Max, both he and Steven lost against Charleston Catholic and that was their first loss. They were 17-0 at the time. They really bounced back. They were seeded No. 1 and came through.
''This is like a stepping stone. They were all business and they all went out and did their job. With regionals next week, they are all playing well at the right time.''
Two-time defending champion Parkersburg South didn't walk away empty-handed as Brandon Galiei captured the No. 2 Singles championship with an 8-3 victory against Cambridge's Connor Engstrom.
At No. 3 Singles, Cambridge's Aaron Ruby defeated Wheeling Park's Mitch Baranski, 8-1.
All four brackets featured the top two seeds playing for the title with Galiei as the lone No. 2 seed to win.