Oglebay Junior Classic Kicks Off

WHEELING – You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their shoes.

Ben Cooper and Giorgio Alexander happened to be wearing the same pair when they met for their Boys’ 16 Singles match during the Oglebay Junior Classic.

The orange around Alexander’s Nike tennis shoes looked a little more faded compared to Cooper’s pair.

It makes sense. After all, Cooper has barley been playing tennis for a year, while Alexander has been around the Oglebay courts for the better part of four.

Alexander’s experience showed early in their match as he quickly captured the first set, 6-1.

Cooper, however, began to settle in and actually held a 3-2 lead before Alexander rallied for a 6-4 victory to win the match.

”I felt it went really well,” Alexander said. ”It was really hot, but I played the best I could.”

Cooper and Alexander’s match was actually one of seven that had to be moved from the Oglebay tennis courts to the Wheeling Park tennis bubble due to rain.

”I’ve been training on Har-Tru courts all summer, so this is a little change,” said Alexander, a rising sophomore at Wheeling Central. ”There’s a change with how the ball bounces. On Har-Tru, you get a slightly higher bounce, so I wasn’t as comfortable in here.”

Alexander wasn’t totally new to the bubble. He played No. 4 Singles for the Maroon Knights during the OVAC Tournament, which was also held at the bubble instead of Oglebay due to rain.

According to Cooper, who was participating in his first singles tournament, the change didn’t really have an effect on his play, noting most of his practices are in the bubble.

Cooper, a rising sophomore at Brooke, actually grew up playing football, but an injury to his lower back made him decide to give up the sport.

”Tennis sounded good,” Cooper said. ”A lot less contact.”

Cooper has been taking lessons from Oglebay Park Tennis Director Jeremy McClelland, who is also the tournament director.

”I like seeing the local kids do well,” McClelland said. ”Good thing is, I get to see some of the old kids I used to coach in Pittsburgh and Ohio, too.”

A total of 22 matches were played Friday ranging from 12 to 16 Boys’ and Girls’ Singles.

McCelland noted the first day of the Junior Classic went well despite having to halt the tournament about a third of the way through.

”It’s been good so far,” he said. ”Fortunately, the rain didn’t slow us down. We ended up just about an hour behind, which is really good considering. I hope the rain holds off (today). We’re just trying to make it to be a good environment for the kids, that’s my main goal.

”We had a lot of good, hard-fought matches. Not too many arguments on the court, so that’s always a plus. Overall, it’s been a good experience.”

The Junior Classic will continue today and wrap up Sunday.