West Virginia Open Tennis Starts Today

WHEELING – The crown jewel of the area tennis scene – the West Virginia Open – begins to serve and volley this morning on the Har-Tru Courts of the Oglebay Tennis Center.

Heather Gallagher, head women’s tennis coach and associate athletics director at West Liberty University, is in her first year directing the longtime event. She is excited about the opportunity to help carry on a great tennis tradition.

”This is bigger than any other event I’ve helped put on,” Gallagher said. ”The volunteers that help with (the Open) have been a great help.”

Gallagher, a former standout at West Liberty and Parkersburg Catholic High School, was named West Virginia Conference Coach of the Year in 2004 after guiding the Hilltoppers to the conference crown. West Liberty won another title in 2006.

”We are pleased with the numbers, but it’s still a little lower than last year,” Gallagher said.

While the Singles draws are set, doubles entries will be accepted until noon today. Doubles action begins Friday.

”We really have a quality field,” Gallagher said, noting the Open is again a United States Tennis Association Middle States Sectional Championship.

Wheeling’s Jeremy McClelland will be in search of a three-peat this week in the Men’s Open Singles Division.

McClelland, the former Wheeling Park High School who recently completed a strong collegiate career at Duquesne University, is the top seed.

The No. 2 seed is Scott Kahler, McClelland’s victim in the finals the past two years.

”The Men’s Open Singles Division is very competitive,” Gallagher said.

Keith Whittingham is the No. 3 seed in Men’s Open Singles, followed by Michael McGrath, Kyle King, Leet Sommerfeld, Billy Heird and Tom Mercer.

Wheeling’s Mark Panepinto, who preceded Gallagher as tournament director, is the top seed in the Men’s 35 and Men’s 45 singles divisions.

Andrew Lach tops the list of seeds at Men’s 55 Singles, while Robert Malnati is the lone competitor seeded in men’s 65 Singles.

Jackie Hughes will look to regain the Women’s Open Singles crown after falling in the finals last year. Hughes won the crown in 2008 and 2009 and was a fixture in the finals a few years before that.

Anna Pieschal, a native if Sweden, is the top seed in Women’s Open Singles. She starred at Stony Brook University the last two seasons.

Anastassyia Zherdeva is the No. 2 seed in Women’s Open Singles. She will be a junior at California (Pa.) in the fall.

Champions will be crowned in the following divisions:

  • MEN: Open singles; 35 singles; 45 singles; 55 singles; 65 singles; Open doubles; 35 doubles; 45 doubles; 55 doubles; 65 doubles; NTRP 3.5 singles; NTRP 3.5 doubles.
  • WOMEN: Open singles; 35 singles; 45 singles; Open doubles; 35 doubles; 45 doubles; NTRP 3.5 singles; NTRP 3.5 doubles.
  • MIXED: Open doubles; 35 doubles; 45 doubles.

In addition to tennis, there will be a pizza party Thursday night and a dinner on Friday night at Haller Shelter.