KANAWHA CITY - Ravenswood seniors Taylor Youell and Alex McNabb and junior Bess McNabb saved the best for last this tennis season, making a three-girl run to a West Virginia State AA-A Girls' Tennis Tournament Team Runner-Up finish Saturday at Schoenbaum Tennis Center.
The trio gift-wrapped the state runner-up trophy as a retirement gift for their coaches Butch Varney and Jim Frazier who are calling it a career.
Youell scored half of Ravenswood's second-best eight team points herself, marching through the No. 2 Singles bracket to the state championship—the first girls' individual state crown in Varney's long tenure. In fact, as it turned out, Youell's 6-2, 6-2 win over familiar foe Olivia Haught of Ritchie County in the championship final was the clincher.
Ravenswood nipped the Rebels, 8-7, for the state AA-A girls' team runner-up trophy. Bridgeport and Oak Glen tied for fourth place with six points each, followed by Bluefield (5 points), Keyser 4, Grafton, Petersburg, Poca and Wheeling Central 2 each, and East Fairmont, Huntington St. Joe and Independence, 1 each.
Yet it was the showing of all three Ravenswood girls which resulted in the runner-up trophy, also a first under Varney. The No. 1 Doubles tandem of seniors Alex McNabb and Youell won three matches on their way to the championship final Saturday. They lost in that championship match, 6-0, 6-1 to Charleston Catholic's Claire Hamilton and Danielle Sadd—also finishing as state runners-up. It was the second state runner-up plaque for McNabb, who teamed with Hannah Gurtis to finish as state runner-up at No. 2 Doubles in 2011.
Junior Bess McNabb also made a huge impact at the state tournament, coming off her upset of the Region I No. 1 Seed at No. 3 Singles. McNabb repeated that upset at state's, knocking off the No. 1 seed in a dramatic 9-7 war in the championship quarterfinals, and garnering Ravenswood another key point for their total.
"Two years ago, we came up one point short (of a state runner-up finish)," said Varney, whose 2011 girls' team got state runner-up finishes by Youell at No. 3 Singles and Emily Rector at No. 4 Singles along with McNabb/Gurtis runner-up at No. 2 Doubles.
"I told them (Youell, Alex McNabb and Bess McNabb) they put it together at the right time and were focused. These are athletic, determined young ladies and they show it in other sports too. I couldn't be more proud of what they did this year."
"I reached my goal," said Youell of her stat championship."That's what I had my sights set on for all of my career. It's a good way to go out. I was confident going into it, but you can't take anything for granted. It's hard to put into words. I'm just really happy."
State AA-A Girls' State Tennis Tournament; Ravenswood results:
No. 2 Singles: TAYLOR YOUELL drew bye; defeated Krista Harris (Independence), 8-0; defeated Christina Centofani (Charleston Catholic), 6-2, 2-6, 7-5; defeated Olivia Haught (Ritchie County), 6-2, 6-2; 2013 WEST VIRGINIA STATE TENNIS CHAMPION.
Page 2 of 2 - No. 3 Singles: BESS MCNABB defeated No. 1 seed Sarah Brady (Bluefield), 9-7; lost to Allie Lamm (Bridgeport), 1-6, 4-6; 2013 WEST VIRGINIA STATE TENNIS SEMIFINALIST.
No. 1 Doubles: ALEX MCNABB/TAYLOR YOUELL defeated Dransfield/Karimpour (St. Joseph), 8-6; defeated No. 4 seeded Alastanos/McKee (Bridgeport), 8-1; defeated Spurlock/Juszczak (Oak Glen), 6-3, 7-6 (7-2); lost to No. 2 seeded Hamilton/Sadd (Charleston Catholic), 6-0, 6-1; 2013 WEST VIRGINIA STATE TENNIS RUNNERS-UP.