Wheeling Central Has Eyes On State Title

By TONY VIOLA

Staff Writer

WEST LIBERTY – It was a day of wait and see at the West Virginia Class AA-A Region 1 tennis match at the H. Edgar Martin Tennis Complex on the campus of West Liberty University.

Only 54 of the scheduled 127 singles matches were played during Day 1 action.

Still, some players punched their ticket to the state tournament, which will be held in Charleston at the Kanawha City Community Center Tennis Courts and Coonskin Park Tennis Courts on May 15-17.

Defending regional champion and overall No. 1 seed Joanna Capito from Wheeling Central was one of three Maroon Knights to advance to state competition as she defeated Weir’s Claudia Diaz, 8-7, in the second round.

A three-time All State honoree, Capito will face Fairmont Senior’s Alissa Link at 8 a.m. today for the right to play in the regional finals.

”She has worked at this game since she was five years old,” Central coach Peggy Dailer said. ”She’s really is entitled to all the laurels she can get. She plays hard, she works hard. We hope she wins a state championship.”

Capito’s not the only Knight with state championship aspirations on their mind.

Senior Jonathon Haley, the No. 2 overall seed at No. 1 singles as well as reigning regional champ, along with sophomore Gus Schmidt, the No. 1 overall seed at No. 2 singles, also share the dream.

Haley, whose only regional loss was to OVAC champion Hayden Blazer in the conference tournament, had his hands full in the first round against Fairmont Senior’s Logan Orton before he held on for an 8-3 victory.

”It was actually a tough match,” Haley said. ”A lot harder then I expected.”

Haley will play Oak Glen’s Addison Sayre when play resumes today.

While it’s still to be determined, the final of the boys’ No. 1 singles could end up being a the best match of regionals as on the other side of the bracket No. 1 seed Matt Conforti of Madonna awaits.

He rolled to an 8-0 victory against Weir’s Stephen White.

”He’ll have his hands full with Matt Conforti,” Dailer said. ”It should be an interesting match if they both get to the finals.”

The two have met already this season with Hayle taking the first match and Conforti the second.

Schmidt breezed to an 8-1 victory against North Marion’s Devin Hayes to keep his undefeated record intact.

The hardest part of the day for the sophomore wasn’t the match, but rather the weather.

”It was hot,” he said. ”We played OVACs inside so coming out here, especially with the heat, it took a little bit of getting used to. We come back out here early (today). Hopefully it won’t be as hot.”

And, hopefully for the sake of everyone involved, it won’t rain.

If that’s the case, the tournament will be moved to the Wheeling Park Tennis Bubble, which only has four courts compared to WLU’s eight.

”Everything would take twice as long,” Schmidt noted. ”If we’re playing tennis till midnight or later, that’s not a good time.”

Dailer also pointed out the Knights could have an advantage of playing in the bubble since most of their matches were rescheduled there due to rain.

”The kids take lessons there and get to play there so I think it’s an advantage for us,” the veteran coach said. ”It won’t hurt their game. They seem to be able to play through anything.”

Immediately following the conclusion of singles play will be the start of doubles.

Other local athletes who will continue their pursuits of a state title are Oak Glen’s Haley Spurlock, Madison Juszczak, Katie Szymanski, Evan Hall, Nate Bennett and Madison Hill, Weir’s Ashley Anderson, Central’s Giorgio Alexander and Billy Teufel and Madonna’s Elizabeth Conforti.

Those seeded No. 1 or No. 2 need only two regional wins to advance to states, while those seeded No. 3 or No. 4 have to make an appearance in the finals to qualify.