McClelland Eyeing Another W.Va. Open Title
By DAVE MORRISON
WHEELING – Saturday evening you could find Jeremy McClelland in his office at Oglebay Park’s tennis facility.
The head tennis pro at the park was stringing rackets, but he wasn’t working.
Yet he was all business.
McClelland advanced to today’s open singles championship at the West Virginia Open tennis championships with a 6-2, 6-3 victory against Scott Kaylor.
Of course McClelland is no stranger to the event, as a five-time Open champion, as well as winning a pair of doubles championships and a mixed doubles title.
Today he will do double duty, playing in the singles championship and teaming up with old buddy Justin Thomas in the doubles championship.
Despite all the success, this time is different for McClelland.
“I’m really enjoying playing again, which is a little different for me since I stopped playing (after beginning as a teaching pro),” McClelland said. “In the past I was doing it to prove somebody wrong, or to impress someone. Now I’m playing because I want to play. Not that winning those titles didn’t feel good. It’s great to win. Mostly, I was playing to prove somebody wrong. Now, I’m doing it for me. I’m having fun playing again, and I’ve played a lot more this year than I did last year.”
He knows his opponent, No. 1 seed and defending champion Keith Whittingham, who beat Jeff Layman 6-0, 6-2 Saturday. It was Whittingham who beat McClelland in the championship last year.
“We’ve probably played 20 times and we’ve both played well,” McClelland said. “We’ve probably been close to splitting (those matches).”
Obviously winning the singles title is important, but McClelland, a 2006 high school singles and double champion, who helped guide Wheeling Park to the state team title, said the doubles is also important.
He and Thomas have been friends since playing one another in the OVAC Tournament when McClelland was a freshman at Park and Thomas a senior at Oak Glen.
“It’s hard to say one is more fun than the other, but the singles is generally more tense,” McClelland said. “The doubles is more relaxed. We’ve played a lot of tennis together, so that makes it fun. We know each other’s game.”
McClelland and Thomas will face George Barth and Jeff Layman in the open doubles final.
Other matches of interest include: Ken Dearth vs. Joe Safar (35 singles final), Jeff Layman vs. Mark Panepinto (45 singles), Jeff James vs. Andrew Lach (55 singles), Tim Barker vs. Sean Coughlan (4.0 singles), and Chloe Grzyb vs. Elise Eckman (women’s open singles).
The tournament, which moved from a four-day event to a three-day tennis extravaganza, has been a success, said Debbie Pickens, the co-tournament director along with Brenda Matzke.
“We moved it to three days so the people who didn’t want to miss work Thursday could still play,” Pickens said. “It’s been a tremendous success, and we have really been blessed with great weather, at least on Friday and Saturday.”
With forecasts calling for rain, Pickens said the tournament will move into Wheeling Park’s bubble if weather turns bad today.
“We’re a little leery for tomorrow,” Pickens said. “It’s been a great week for tennis so we’re hoping the weather holds off. But we will get it in.”