W.Va. Open: Making More Memories

WHEELING – There is nothing like leaving your fans wanting more.

Wheeling Park High School students Jeremy McClelland and Steve D’Angelo walked off the courts following their final doubles match in 2006 as West Virginia state champions, however they have not played a competitive match together since.

That is until Friday when the duo earned a hard-fought, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 victory against Mike Russell and Sam Schiffman in Men’s Open Doubles action at the 53rd annual West Virginia Open Tennis Tournament on the Har-Tru courts at the Oglebay Tennis Center.

The victory moves McClelland and D’Angelo into this afternoon’s semifinals at 4.

While the pair played championship tennis the last time they stepped on the court, there was no question a little rust and frustration showed through during their grueling three-hour match in Friday afternoon’s heat.

“There is no question it was a little bit of a roller coaster,” McClelland said with a smile “But honestly, this is very much like what it used to be. Some things never change, and for me that is tennis with Steve.”

When asked if it felt good to play together again, the duo looked at each other and smiled while simultaneously responding with the same answer, “absolutely, it brought back a lot of good, old memories.”

While McClelland is more than familiar with the courts at Oglebay, having won five of the previous seven Open men’s singles crowns, this year’s event is the first tournament in three years for D’Angelo.

“It’s my first match here in (in a while) and there was a little culture shock,” D’Angelo said. “I spent two years playing college tennis but left to pursue other interests, but it is really great to be back on the court with Jeremy again.”

“Yeah, we weren’t very polished,” McClelland added, “and we missed a few steps here and there, but it was fun and the end result was a lot better than losing. Steve is like a little brother to me, we are very close and there is almost a little bit of a sibling rivalry there.

“We argue a little bit, but we have been through a lot together and in the end that will not change no matter what.”

With semifinal matches in doubles, mixed doubles and men’s singles all staring him in the face today, you might think McClelland was not particularly happy with spending so much time fighting for a victory riday, but it is all about tennis for the standout.

“This is a great tournament with young players playing at a high level,” McClelland said. “Winning quick and easy is nice, but this was such a nice atmosphere here with a lot of people watching and I am kind of glad that the match went a long way. It’s a good thing when younger players, and even people may be thinking about playing, can get inspired watching that kind of a match.

“I know I still have three matches ahead of me (today), but I will be all right and it really should be fun. I honestly and really am looking forward to playing the next doubles match with Steve. Singles will also be a challenge, there are a lot of good players in the draw, but I am looking forward to the challenge.”

And while walking off the court as doubles champions with D’Angelo could bring a huge smile to each player’s face, not matter what happens the next two days the former state champions, friends and “brothers” will enjoy doing what they are doing at least one more time, and hopefully in the end, leave the fans wanting more.