WHEELING - Mitch Baranski has been playing tennis for six years, but he has never competed in a open tournament. He decided to change that as he entered in the 9th Annual Ohio Valley Tennis Classic held at the Oglebay Resort.
''I've been coming here since I was in sixth grade, but this was the very first (open) tournament I've ever played in,'' said Baranski, a rising junior at Wheeling Park. ''I went to (Oglebay's Director of Tennis) Marc White's clinics when I was younger, so I knew about the tournament and just decided to play in it.''
Baranski, however, is no stranger to the sport as he was an OVAC finalist, West Virginia Class AAA regional finalist and state quarterfinalist, along with compiling an impressive 19-1 record during the regular season in his sophomore year at Park.
Brett Szeligo fires a backhand shot during his match against Mich Baranski on Wednesday evening.
Photo by Tony Viola
''I used to play other sports, but I gave them all up for tennis,'' Baranski said. ''It's my favorite.''
His competition Wednesday at the classic was also no stranger. Brett Szeligo, who is heading into his senior year at Wheeling Central, has faced off against Baranski for several years now.
"I've played doubles against (Szeligo) when we face Central, and I know him through Marc White's clinics,'' Baranski said.
It's that familiarity factor, Szeligo says, that makes this tournament so much fun.
"There's a lot of kids here that I know through high school that come and play.''
And it's those high school kids that the Classic is looking to help out as the tournament serves as a fundraiser for Wheeling Park, Wheeling Central and John Marshall High Schools.
"That's why this tournament is a little bit different,'' Wheeling Central tennis coach Peggy Dailer said. ''It's one of the best local tournaments around.
"We have 66 entries this year, which is outstanding. A lot of high school kids and families both compete.''
The tournament is broken down into 13 different categories, including father/son and father/daughter doubles.
"This is a good, local tournament,'' White said. "A lot of people come out and watch. It's nice to see the families compete too.''
The classic began on Wednesday and will continue through Sunday.