Pressure Is On For Central’s Schmidt

WHEELING – Wheeling Central tennis sophomore Gus Schmidt is feeling the pressure.

On the one hand, Schmidt is trying to keep his undefeated run intact as he enters this weekend’s West Virginia state tennis tournament after claiming the No. 2 singles Region 1 title.

On the other, he’s trying not to blow teammate Jonathon Haley’s last shot at a state title in No. 1 doubles.

”You definitely have a sense to pull through for him,” Schmidt said. ”There’s been some close matches that we’ve won that just came down to, you have to get it done. It’s his senior year. I don’t want to mess anything up for him.”

The state tournament will run Thursday through Saturday on the courts at Charleston Catholic and the Kanawha City Community Center in Charleston.

A total of 19 area athletes will compete for a state championship, including Haley and Schmidt.

In just their first year of playing doubles together, the duo claimed the No. 1 doubles title at the Class AA-A Region 1 tournament with an 8-1 victory against Madonna’s Matt Conforti and Thomas Gianni, who also will make the drive down to the capital city.

”I admire (Haley’s) head game a lot,” Schmidt said. ”Our games our different, but they compliment each other pretty well. He’s big at the net and I’m bigger at the baseline. He’s more consistent at the net. Just keeping each other’s head straight when we’re playing doubles helps a lot.”

Haley, who will also compete at No. 1 singles after finishing runner-up to Conforti at regionals, and Schmidt will be joined by teammates Billy Teufel and Joanna Capito in Charleston.

Teufel advanced to the state tournament after claiming the No. 3 singles regional title, while Capito did the same at No. 1 singles.

Capito, a senior, is looking for her first state title as well as earning All State honors for the fourth consecutive season.

Conforti, the Blue Dons’ senior leader, is also looking for his first state championship after claiming singles regional titles in each of his four seasons at Madonna. The West Liberty commit is 14-1 in the region this season and has posted an overall record of 18-3.

The Blue Dons, who’s boys squad won the Region 1 title, boast nine state qualifiers, the most from any area team.

Gianni will join Conforti at No. 1 doubles and will also compete at No. 2 singles after falling to Schmidt in the regional final.

Alan Alimario, who is undefeated in the region and 17-3 overall, will see action at No. 4 singles and the duo of Ryan Watts and Cole Roberts will be at No. 3 doubles after claiming the regional crown.

Madonna will also be well represented on the girls side.

Ali Welch and Christina Conforti will play No. 1 doubles, while Elizabeth Conforti, Matt’s twin sister and fellow Hilltopper commit, and Morgan Duerr will compete in No. 2 doubles. The duo won the regional title in the event and also claimed singles titles, Elizabeth Conforti at No. 3 and Duerr at No. 4.

Oak Glen boasts the only returning state champion in the valley in sophomore Madison Juszczak, who won the No. 4 singles title last season. Juszczak helped the Golden Bears earn back-to-back Region 1 titles and will compete at No. 2 singles after claiming the regional championship in the event. She joined Haylee Spurlock, who qualified at No. 1 singles, to win the regional title at No. 1 doubles.

Madison Hill (No. 3 singles) and Addison Sayre (No. 1 singles) also qualified from Oak Glen.

In Class AAA, John Marshall will be represented by Hayden Blazer and Tyler Keller.

Blazer, who claimed the OVAC big school singles title, will compete at No. 1 singles.