Linsly Tennis Duo Lose to Morgantown 8-4

WHEELING – The moment was bittersweet for Linsly double partners Jackie McDermott and Amika Ekanem.

The duo lost together for the first time on the year, in what was their final match together, falling to Morgantown sisters Abby and Lexie Rosiello, 8-4.

The Linsly duo still finished the year 13-1, and, still have a chance to take home the coveted OVAC 1A-4A championship.

McDermott is a senior, and will continue her tennis career at Oberlin College in Ohio.

That was what made the moment so bittersweet for the duo.

“I really couldn’t have asked for a better doubles partner,” McDermott said. “I played the first two years with my older sister (Morgan). Playing with Amika has been just as much fun. She is always has a super-positive attitude. We didn’t really talk too much about it being the last time. We were just focused on trying to win one more together.”

“I think we mentioned it at our last home meet, about how it was going to be our last time but we didn’t talk about it (Tuesday),” Ekanem said. “It is really sad. She’s been the best partner. I’m going to miss her.”

The Cadets are alive and in position to make a run for another team title, as well as singles titles when the girls tournament resumes Thursday.

The boys singles tournament will be played today beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Playing for the OVAC Tournament championship is a state tournament of sorts for Linsly.

“It’s been our goal all year,” said coach Dave Riethmiller, who is in his 29th-year with the school. “This is it for us. We work to this point every season.”

Last year the Cadets tied with Oak Glen but won on a tiebreaker.

Linsly currently leads the points race for the 1A-4A title with five.

Morgantown leads the race for the 5A title with 11 points, followed by University with eight.

The two Morgantown schools won all three doubles titles.

At No. 2 doubles, University’s Brooke Franklin and Cassidy Seamon defeated Morgantown’s Sydney Kacik and Lily McKnight 8-1 and at No. 3 Morgantown’s Michelle Joseph and Demi Derrico defeated John Marshall’s Marissa Tordella and Abby Woods 8-3.

Linsly is third overall, followed by Oak Glen with four points, John Marshall, Madonna and Parkersburg South with three each, Wheeling Park with two and Brooke, Weir and Wheeling Central with one point apiece.

“It wasn’t decided (Tuesday),” Riethmiller said. “There are a lot of good teams right there and it’s going to be a great competition.”

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Oak Glen’s Madison Juszczak isn’t stuck in the past, but she does like to have a daily reminder of the path to success she has carved for herself by hard work.

The Golden Bears’ two-sport standout keeps the two volleyball state championship plaques she has earned, along with the No. 4 singles state tennis championship she won, in her bathroom.

“That way when I wake up in the morning, it’s one of the first things I see,” Juszczak said. “It reminds me that if I keep working hard, good things will happen.”

Good things have definitely happened.

Despite moving up to No. 2 singles this year, she has continued to win.

She is 14-2 on the year, and her losses to Morgantown, and Linsly came against competition she won’t see in the regional tournament.

“It is a big step up in competition for sure,” she said, after her and Madison Hill lost to McDermott and Ekanem in the No. 1 doubles semifinals, 8-2.

“I know that was going to be the case so I worked hard in the winter and last summer to try to get ready for that. I don’t think my goals have changed.”

“She also played No. 1 doubles for us last year,” Coach Ken Keller said. “That really gave her an idea what the competition would be like.”

She calls winning the singles title at No. 4 “a bit of a surprise” at first.

“It was always in the back of my mind and as the matches started to go by, I started thinking ‘This is getting so real,'” Juszczak said. “I made it a goal to do it. I just kept telling myself as it got closer, ‘You’re almost there, you’re almost there.’ It was so exciting.”

Juszczak hasn’t received any legitimate college offers yet, but she hasn’t sluffed off on her work ethic.

She says she likes both her chosen sports “when they are in season.”

“I don’t really have a favorite but I think if I could choose to play one in college I would choose tennis,” she said.

Juszczak and her teammates and competitors will be back in action at the OVAC girls singles tournament at West Liberty Thursday, if weather permits. If not, they will be at the Wheeling Park tennis bubble.