CHARLESTON - Hot off their team regional runner-up (tie) finish, a quarter of Red Devils are headed to the Kanawha City Community Tennis Center to take on their fellow tennis elite from around the state. Unfortunately, barring a miracle, that quartet is reduced to a trio before they begin.
Nick Williams, who qualified for the states as the AA-A region I runner-up at No. 3 Singles, will apparently not get to finish his dream this year. Williams suffered an ankle injury in the regional championship match last Friday, and had to withdraw from the No. 1 Doubles consolation match (with partner, junior Ethan Cross) with a state qualification going to the winner.
Williams ended his regional tournament run with an ice bag on his ankle, and was on crutches this week at school. He would have opened in No. 3 Singles state tournament play versus Wesley Stump of Bluefield Thursday afternoon. Region 1 champion Billy Teufel of Wheeling Central is in the other half of the draw.
Undaunted, first-year head coach Jackie Gacek will have Region 1 champions at No. 2 Doubles, Sean Matics and Clayton Curry, and No. 1 Singles fourth-placer Ethan Cross in the state tournament draw when play opens this (Thursday) morning.
Cross, a powerful junior southpaw who mixes finesse with cannon shots in his game, will open state tournament play this morning with a huge challenge in the No. 1 Singles draw—his first as a Ravenswood tennis player.
Cross will square off against Region 3 champion and fellow junior No. 4 seed Francesco Desiderio of Bluefield in the opening matches set for 8 a.m. Desiderio has rolled throuhg this season for the Beavers.
Also in Cross’ half of the draw is Region champion and No. 1 seed Matt Conforti of Weirton Madonna. Conforti beat Cross, 8-5, in the regional semifinals last week.
“It was an extremely close tennis match and one of the highest quality I’ve seen at the high school level,” said Coach Gacek.
In No. 2 Doubles, Matics and Curry will play their first match in their first-ever state tournament on Friay morning.
The junior duo blew through the competition at West Liberty last week as the No. 1 seeds to win the regional crown going away. Their regional championship snapped an eight-year drought for Ravenswood boys’ tennis. (German exchange student Igor Boss won the regional crown at No. 4 singles in 2006.)
Matics/Curry (8-2 overall on the season, 8-1 in regional play) will open state play versus the Region 3 runners-up and Coalfield Conference champions, seniors Jordan Vollmar and Wesley Stump of Bluefield.
Vollmar began the 2014 season at No. 1 Doubles, while Stump is a state qualifier at No. 3 Singles as well.
Should Matics/Curry advance, they must play again Friday in the championship semifinals versus the winner of the quarterfinal pitting Region 2 runners-up freshman Maxwell Roth and sophomore Brandon Kimble of Petersburg versus eight-time state champion Charleston Catholic’s Region 4 champions, the sophomore tandem of Andrew Jones and Tyer Zubick.
Page 2 of 2 - Roth is a No. 3 Singles state qualifier. Jones is a No. 2 Singles state qualifier and Zubick is a No. 3 Singles state qualifier.
The other half of the No. 2 Doubles draw features Region 2 champions, junior Daniel Lewis (No. 3 Singles qualifier) and senior Travis Martin of Keyser and Region 3 champions, Trenton Calloway and Luke Stover of Liberty Raleigh. Also in atha thalf are Aaron leo and Muhammad Kingson of Williamstown and Region 1 runners-up Luca Powell and Elijah Stewart of St. Marys.
State championship matches for both AA-A and AAA are set for Saturday at the Kanawha City Community Tennis Center.