CHARLESTON - Like most expected, Charleston Catholic continued its dominance Friday at the West Virginia State Tennis Tournament, placing a finalist in all 14 of today's matches.
Looking to prevent the Irish from sweeping the individual titles on the girls' side will be Wheeling Central's Joanna Capito and Christine Gompers.
Capito defeated Poca's Courtney Mobley 6-2, 6-2 in the semfinals at No. 2, winning her second straight all-state ranking and setting up a rematch of last season's title match when she faces Charleston Catholic's Claire Hamilton.
PHOTO BY JOSH STROPE
Wheeling Central’s Joanna Capito returns a shot during second-day action Friday at the West Virginia State Tennis Tournament.
"I thought I played well," Capito said. "(Mobley) was really consistent so I just tried to hit hard to her weakest point.
"I am really happy (about the all-state). I didn't think I could do it again."
Capito was tested last season, but has built on her experience and looks like a crafty veteran despite being a sophomore.
She was never really tested against Mobley, winning the first three games of the first set and never letting the score get closer than two.
In fact, Hamilton was so sure she'd win, she told her before her match that she'd "see you in the finals."
"I'm glad she has confidence in me," Capito said. "We've become friends."
Capito got a sneak preview of what to expect today when she and sister, Natalie, took on Hamilton and Mary Emma Maddox in the No. 1 Doubles semifinals. The Irish duo won 6-1, 6-3 in a hard-fought contest.
"She is really good and I am just going to try my best," Capito said. "I just have to worry about keeping it in play. She is really good and I have to try to find a weakness."
Gompers defeated Liberty's Samantha McIntire 6-4, 6-4 to set up a No. 4 Singles showdown with the Irish's Ellie Grubb.
Gompers took the first four games of the first set and although McIntire crept back in to cut it a 5-4 in both sets, Gompers was able to close the door to enter her first championship final.
The Maroon Knights senior is no stranger to Grubb and even holds a victory against her.
The Irish have already claimed the boys' and girls' titles but runner-up on the female side is still up in the air, and Wheeling Central looks poised to take home that trophy.
The Maroon Knights are tied with Poca with seven points. Parkersburg Catholic is one back at six. The tiebreaker is determined by the number of title game participants. Poca has one in No. 1 Doubles and Parkersburg Catholic will have players in No. 1 Singles and No. 3 Doubles.
The easy explanation: If Capito or Gompers win, or if Poca and Parkersburg Catholic lose their matches, then the Maroon Knights girls' will come in second.
The rest of the Ohio Valley contingent didn't fare so well Friday.
Oak Glen's Haley Spurlock was defeated by Charleston Catholic's Christina Centofanti 6-0, 6-2 in the No. 3 Singles semifinals.
On the boys' side, Weirton Madonna's Nick Conforti saw his run come to an end at the hand of St. Joe's Max Meade 6-1, 6-3.
Conforti, who also lost in No. 1 Doubles with partner-brother, Matt, will be honored today for making the all-state team.
"I think I played well but every time I hit the ball, I felt like I set (Meade) up for the winners," Nick said. "He was a really good player. Very solid and really tough. The best player I've played this year.
"I'm very proud of being all-state. It has been a good season and at least I'm taking that back. I just have to continue my game and continue to get ready for next year. I have to be ready to play the best."
Wheeling Central suffered defeats from Jacob Mayles and Brett Szeligo (No. 1 Doubles), Jonathan Haley (No. 3 Singles, No. 2 Doubles) and Daniel Lee (No. 4 Singles, No. 2 Doubles).
Oak Glen's No. 3 Doubles team of Alex Bennett and Teddy Adkins was also defeated in the semifinals.
A day after C.J. Petrini qualified for the all-state team, the Wheeling Park senior saw her prep career come to a close.
Defending state champion Cassie Mercer lived up to her billing with an impressive performance as the sophomore phenom ousted Petrini 6-0, 6-0.
Petrini and partner Alli Hone were also defeated in the second round of No. 1 Doubles. Emily Capehart and Lexie Patterson lost at No. 2 Doubles.
Wheeling Park's No. 2 Doubles team of Jacopo Chiarlo and Zac Marra were victorious in their first doubles match, beating Jordan Butts and Jordan Butler of Musselman before being eliminated in the semifinals.
Huntington has the boys' title wrapped up, while the Highlanders hold a slim lead on Parkersburg on the girls' side.