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Prep tennis: Clay short of meeting goal at State Tournament

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Alex Clay, Hurricane's No. 1 singles player, ended his high school singles career on Schoenbaum Courts on Thursday.  

The three-time All-State tennis player lost his Class AAA quarterfinal match of the State Tournament to Martinsburg's Grant Davis, 8-3.  

The Class AAA boys and girls tournament continues at 8 a.m. today at the Schoenbaum Courts in Kanawha City.

Clay, a senior, just missed making the all-state tennis team for the fourth consecutive year.

"This is not how I wanted it to end," he said. "I was really trying to get the fourth All-State."

Clay, down a service break at 4-2 against Davis, brought out his big serve and won the game on an epic rally in which he had three overhead smashes.  

He switched sides with the score at 4-3.  

"I really thought I was going to carry some momentum after that game," Clay said. "I don't know what happened."

Clay lost the next four games.

"I was just outplayed," the senior said.

Davis had his own theory about what happened in the second half of the match.

"Actually, I think that point cleared all the nerves and I settled down," Davis said, "It was a tough match. Alex is a great player."

Davis, who is making his third straight appearance in the semifinals, will move on to play George Washington's Ryan Massinople.

Clay was obviously disappointed, but gracious after the loss.

"It was a good run," he said. "You can't take anything away."

Indeed, it has been a good run for Clay. Four straight state tournament appearances as a singles player are his to keep.  

Clay was the No. 1 singles player at Hurricane as a freshman and made it to the semifinals before losing.

He moved down a rung for the Redskins as a sophomore and won the state title at No. 2 singles. As a junior, Clay again made it to the finals of the No. 2 singles tournament before losing to Huntington's Robert Skolik.

"At the No. 2 position, there are just a couple of schools you have to watch out for," Clay said. "At the No. 1 - there's not a bad kid here."

Clay's high school tennis career is not completely over.  

He and his doubles partner, Jordan Chapman, won their first-round matchup 8-6 over Wheeling Park's Craig Baranski and Shaun Hunley.

Clay's loss to Davis seemed to be all but a memory at the end of the match with Baranski and Hunley.  

Glenna Ragle, who is in her 15th season as Hurricane's coach, was talking to the doubles team after the switch - Hurricane led 7-6 - getting them ready in case the match went to a tiebreaker.

"It doesn't matter," Clay said. "I'm about to serve four to win."

He was wrong. It took five serves.

Clay and Chapman will play Davis and Carter Davis of Martinsburg today in the quarterfinals of the No. 1 doubles tournament.

*  *  *

GEORGE WASHINGTON'S boys tennis team is in bit of a slump in the state tournament - at least by George Washington's standards.  

They haven't won a state title since 2010. However, things are looking up this year.  

Third-year Coach Chris Luckett and his Patriots qualified all four singles positions and all three doubles teams.  

Even better for the GW, every position moved to today's play, the second of the three-day event.  

Zach Koenig, who dropped a spot this year to the No. 2 singles position, won his quarterfinal match over Sven Wurmuth of University, 8-0.  

Massinople, who replaced Koenig at No. 1 this season, beat Jonathan Gainer of Elkins in the first round and Zach Hatfield of Logan in the quarterfinals both 8-0 respectively.

*  *  *

RIPLEY'S GIRLS tennis team scored its first point in the state tournament this millennium when No. 1 singles player, Emily Munson, won her first round matchup 8-3 against Washington's Jill Spuria.

Munson lost in the quarterfinals 8-0 to Cassandra Powell of Parkersburg.

Ripley qualified all four singles positions and first and second doubles teams.  

Munson is the only Ripley player with state tournament experience.

"It's great to have everyone else here," Munson said. "I really feel like part of a team this year."  

Munson and her doubles partner, Kaitlyn White, lost in the first round of the No. 1 girls doubles tournament 8-5 to Martinsburg.  

"We're going in blind," White said before the match.  

The teams had never played.

Arin Shatto, Ripley's No. 4 singles player, will have and opportunity to pick up another point today in her quarterfinal match with Dori Sanders of Washington.

Shatto and Barickman will also have the chance to add another point for Ripley in their quarterfinal match against Parkersburg.

*  *  *

LOGAN'S No. 1 singles player, Zach Hatfield, is no stranger to the state tournament.  

This is his fourth trip - once, as a freshman at the No.2 position and the rest as the No. 1.  

"We have a good group of kids," Hatfield said. "We work hard and we have good coaches."  

Logan's fourth-year coach, Justin Turner, has had players in the state tournament every season since he took over the program.

"You've got to start at the grade school level," Turner said. "Three years ago, we gotan indoor facility and that has made a big difference."

Hatfield won his first round match over Brandon Galici of Parkersburg South, 8-5.

Hatfield then lost in the quarterfinals to Massinople, 8-0.  

Hatfield and his doubles partner won their first round match against University and will face Massinople and Koenig in the quarterfinals today.

*  *  *

HURRICANE'S GIRLS won all of its singles matches Thursday.  

The only blemish for the squad was its first doubles loss to University 8-6.  

All four girls singles players will be on the court today looking to rack up more points for a potential state title run. The Redskins were the only Class AAA girls team that qualified all seven positions for the state tournament.

Six of those positions are headed to the second day of states.

Hurricane Coach Glenna Ragle gets too excited to be able to watch matches sometimes. This year, she has much to be excited about.

"I couldn't ask for anything more," Ragle said. 

 


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