Prep tennis: George Washington gearing up for Region 3 tournament
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- George Washington Coach Chris Luckett and his No. 1 singles player, Ryan Massinople, stood just off Court 6 at Schoenbaum Courts in Kanawha City watching his No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams rally.
The two doubles teams are made up of four freshmen, who are preparing for the Class AAA Region 3 tennis tournament, which begins at Schoenbaum at noon today.
The entire day of tennis will be devoted to qualifying doubles teams for next week's three-day State Tournament here in Charleston.
Friday, the singles players will have their opportunity to make a State Tournament run.
On Wednesday, Luckett was calm but firm as he pointed out a missed assignment to his No. 2 doubles tandem.
"The whole team, overall, is a little bit inexperienced at the regional and state high school tennis level," Luckett said.
Luckett isn't exaggerating. Although George Washington consistently sends players to states, four players of this year's squad were in middle school this time last year.
With so many freshmen, maturity is in short supply.
"What I have tried to teach all year is more of them growing as players and being more mature on the court," Luckett said.
Massinople, a junior, has moved from the newcomer to field general in the course of the past year.
"I have to help these freshmen out," he said. "It happened to me when I was a freshman - I had some great upperclassmen to help me out with my role on the team and just general stuff about tennis."
Massinople and his doubles partner, Zack Koenig, will be looking to qualify for the State Tournament as well.
"What I'm trying to do with these kids is take them to a higher, more elite level of tennis," Luckett said.
The second-year coach's plan for accomplishing this goal is to have his team play everyone.
The Patriots have played everyone in their own region as well as Martinsburg and Morgantown in the northern part of the state and Washington in the Eastern Panhandle.
He also took his team to Ohio for matches last week.
"It's just a matter of trying to expand these kids and showing them a whole other level of competitiveness in tennis," Luckett said. "The level of tennis is not what it used to be and you have to try to keep these kids motivated."
Luckett forces his team to engage and use their heads after the match as well.
"We grade ourselves after each match," Luckett said. "If we didn't move our feet our grade is a C and we work from there. If you can always try to make yourself better the next day - and that goes throughout life too - that's what you want to do on the court."
The regional tournament qualifies players at each of the four singles positions and the three doubles positions for the state tournament.
The format offers the opportunity for more players to experience the atmosphere of the state tournament.
Region 3 is comprised of Beckley, Capital, George Washington, Greenbrier East, Oak Hill, Princeton, Ripley, Riverside, Shady Spring, and South Charleston.
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The Class AA/A Region 4 tournament will be held at Parkersburg today and Friday.
That region is made up of Chapmanville, Charleston Catholic, Herbert Hoover, Mingo Central, Parkersburg Catholic, Poca, Nicholas County, Scott, Sherman, Sissonville, St. Joseph, Wahama, Williamstown and Wirt County.
The Class AAA Region 4 tournament is also today and Friday and will be hosted by Cabell Midland.
In addition to Cabell Midland, regional participants include Huntington, Hurricane, Lincoln County, Logan, Nitro, Point Pleasant, Spring Valley, St. Albans and Winfield.
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Each region qualifies 10 singles players and six doubles teams for the state tournament.
The semifinalists at No. 1 singles are automatically qualified for states. Three players at No. 2 singles will earn a berth, as well as the finalists at No. 3 singles and the No. 4 singles champion.
There will be three state tournament berths handed out at No. 1 doubles in each region. The finalists at No. 2 doubles and the No. 3 doubles champs will also earn a ticket to next week's state tournament.