The Chapmanville Lady Tigers ended the year as the top public school in the state, and overall state runner-up for the first time in school history, as they edged out a veteran Williamstown team 11-10 in match wins, with Charleston Catholic placing first with 16 wins.
The Logan girls were not far behind with eight match wins, finishing fourth overall, while the Logan boys finished with six match wins, and placed in a tie for third in the state with Winfield, behind Charleston Catholic with 15 wins, and champion Williamstown with 17 wins.
The Lady Tigers' 11 state tournament wins were the most in school history in a state tournament showing, and had the most state finalist in the girls’ field with five, making it seven-state finalist players in the past two years for Chapmanville. Logan had three girls in the state finals, and a grand total of six finalists in the past two years.
Chapmanville also made school history by winning their first singles state championship, as sophomore Emma Bryant took the #3 girls singles title 7-5, 6-4 over Williamstown’s London Flores, making it the school's third state title in tennis overall, adding to their two doubles championships in 2014 by Haley Justice, Cassidy Lewis, Myla Bryant, and Sara Lambert.
Chapmanville Head Coach Chris Kidd said the week was an incredible achievement for their program.
“We’ve had so many good teams over the 13 years that I’ve been here,” Kidd said. “We finished third and fourth a few times on the girls’ and boys’ side, but to finally break through against some really great and veteran teams like Charleston Catholic, Williamstown, Logan, Oak Glen, and others really speaks to how hard our kids have worked to achieve something like this. It’s an incredible achievement for a southern West Virginia team that doesn’t always have the same resources as a lot of the more affluent areas in our state, but we’ve been able to do it by working together and having so many people willing to help our kids. I can’t thank everyone enough for making this possible. This belongs to all of us.”
On the girls’ side, Chapmanville freshman Courtney Curnutte made an amazing run to the state finals after finishing third in the region the week before.
She began by knocking off Westside’s Kaylee Addair in the first round 8-1, then went up against the top player from another region in the quarterfinals, Wheeling Central’s Danielle Agcaoili. In a back and forth affair, Curnutte came back from 5-6 down to defeat Agcaoili 8-6 to advance to the semifinals, and earn All-State honors, the third time in school history along with Austin Hanshaw and Jill Blevins.
Curnutte then continued her unprecedented run, as she took on defending state champion Jenna Butcher of Scott, making it the fifth time the two had played this season with Butcher taking three of the four encounters, all in tight affairs. Curnutte blasted her way to a 6-3, 6-1 win between the two friends. It was a match Coach Kidd said was the best Curnutte played all year.
“Courtney played outstanding tennis,” Kidd said. “Jenna is such a great champion and player, and we all love her on our team, and she and her family love us. It’s always hard when they play because you have such respect for both kids, but Courtney played the way she knows she can and has worked hard on her game for over a year now, and it all paid off in the semifinals. She wasn’t in the top six when she started in middle school, and to be an all-state player and our first #1 player to make a state final in school history shows the heart and work ethic she has. I’m so proud of her.”
Curnutte would fall in the finals to tournament favorite Nadia Orcutt of Charleston Catholic to close a great season for the Lady Tigers' young gun.
In number two singles, Chapmanville’s Jill Blevins, who won the conference and regional title this year in singles for the Lady Tigers and was an All-State player and state finalist last season, knocked off Madison Merrill of Lincoln in the quarterfinals 8-0. In the semifinals, Blevins went toe to toe with now four-time state champion Annie Cimino of Charleston Catholic. The two slugged it out for over two hours in difficult heat, with Blevins pushing Cimino to a third and deciding set before Cimino took the match in a tight affair, and eventually the title by week's end.
Coach Kidd said he was so proud of the way Blevins competed.
“Jill is a pit bull,” Kidd said. “She wants to win every drill, every practice, and every point, and to take an unbelievable competitor and champion like Cimino to the wire like she did makes me so proud of her. Jill picked up three big points this week that helped us edge out Williamstown for state runner-up, and this match proves what I always know about Jill, she’s always going to stand in and give everything she has. It was one of the best-played matches of the tournament, and I couldn’t be prouder of her.”
In number three singles, the Lady Tigers Emma Bryant, who won the conference and regional title in singles this year, and was a state finalist in number three singles last year as a freshman for Chapmanville, grinded her way back to the state finals again this year, as she eliminated Caroline Dysart of Herbert Hoover 8-0 in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Bryant, just like last year's semifinal, found a way to get through a difficult and long semifinal, as she outlasted Oak Glen’s Kittawana McKinley 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 to earn her a trip back to the state finals.
Bryant’s final against Flores from Williamstown was a rollercoaster ride that lasted two and a half hours, as Bryant raced out to a 5-0 lead before Flores stormed back to tie the match 5-5. Bryant would dig in and find a way to take the first set 7-5. Flores would take command early in the second set, before Bryant came back to take a late 5-4 lead, and would close out the match on a Flores forehand into the net to give Chapmanville their first singles championship in school history, and cap off an undefeated singles season for Bryant at 26-0.
Coach Kidd said he knew Bryant was willing to fight for as long as the match took.
“Emma is just a grinder and competitor,” Kidd said. “She never thinks she can’t win a match against anyone. Flores is such a tough player for Williamstown. We’ve faced her before and know how much she will make you work for every point, and Emma knew that going out there. And even when she was coming back on Emma and got in front of Emma in the second set, Emma kept her cool and was willing to stay in it and not break mentally, which is so hard for a sophomore to do against a senior. But Emma has pushed herself so hard to get into this position and to watch her find a way to get through that match mentally and physically said everything you need to know about her as a person and a player. To go 26-0 in our region and against the competition she had this week says so much about the player she’s become. I’m so happy for her. To come up just short last year in the finals and to work your way back up that mountain to try it again show’s a lot of guts and willpower, and Emma has shown that from 6th grade until now. I’m so proud of her.”
In number four singles, Chapmanville sophomore Carmen Mahon, who won her conference and regional singles titles this season, and was a state semifinalist in doubles last year,
pushed her way to the state finals in this position for the first time in school history with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Claire Mullen of Charleston Catholic. Mahon would battle hard in the final against Williamstown senior Audrey Fenton before Fenton was able to take the title in a long and hard-fought match, but Coach Kidd said Mahon has shown so much fight over the course of her five years of playing.
“Carmen is only 4’ 11”,” Kidd said, “but that girl digs deep inside that little body every match she plays and competes like she’s a giant. She’s overcome a lot to be as successful as she’s become. In middle school, we couldn’t figure out if she was better as a righty or a lefty, and I was afraid the racquet might knock her over. I’ve never seen a kid work as hard as she has to become the player she’s become, and she always does it with dignity and class. If you can’t like Carmen then you just don’t like people. She’s so sweet and kind, and watching her play so well this week and make the finals made me so proud and happy for her and what she’s done to get here.”
In number one doubles, the team of Curnutte and Blevins got by Shady Spring’s Haley Sweaney and Taylor Poe 8-0, and then nearly pulled off the upset the following morning against Williamstown seniors Taylor Islay and Fenton. Curnutte and Blevins battled back from 3-6 and 5-7 down to force a deciding tiebreaker that Williamstown edged out 9-8 (10-8) to advance to the semifinals.
In number two doubles, the team of Bryant and Mahon would fall to the eventual state champions Cimino and Molly Murphy of Charleston Catholic 8-3.
In number 3 doubles, the Lady Tigers team of Emily Carter and Emily Hughes, who were conference and regional champions this season, won an electric semifinal that went on into the night against Charleston Catholic on Friday evening. The team of Mullen and Anne Carter from Catholic came back from an early deficit before Carter and Hughes closed out the first set 6-4, and in a tight second set that saw the momentum change hands multiple times, Carter and Hughes were able to prevail 7-5 to advance to the finals.
Carter and Hughes would come up just short of the title in the finals against Williamstown’s duo of Claire Strobl and Athena Stewart, but Coach Kidd said this was a great accomplishment for his girls.
“Both of them hadn’t planned on playing when the season started,” Kidd said. “I’m so glad they changed their minds because they are both amazing kids. It seemed like a tough fit at first with Emily Carter being a senior and Emily Hughes being a freshman, but as the season went on they started to jell together and play some great tennis. The semifinal against Catholic was incredible. It really could have gone either way, but our girls stayed tough even after missing a few opportunities, but they fought back and kept their composure against a good team. They both are such fun kids. It breaks my heart to lose Emily Carter. I’ve had her for seven years and she is the gentlest and most wonderful person you could ever hope to coach. And Emily Hughes has so much spunk and fight in her that you have to love her. These two did such a great job this year. I’m so proud of them.”
The Logan Wildcats girls’ team, who finished as overall state runner-up last year and champions in number one doubles with Hannah Thompson and Savannah Baisden, saw another great and deep tournament run this year to finish in the top four in the state. Top seed Thompson, who won the conference and regional titles this year, picked up a first-round 8-0 win over Haley Sweaney of Shady Spring before falling in a hard-fought quarterfinal to Lewis County’s Emily Lybarger 9-7.
"We are proud of our players," Logan Head Coach Justin Turner. "Our boys team had a lot of success this year as did our girls. Unfortunately we lost 4 of our 6 boys and 2 of our 6 girls. This team was the most tight knit team I believe we have ever coached. It was more like a family. The memories and bond they made are unbreakable. 3 of the 6 are going to play tennis at the collegiate level. This group will be honored academically as they have great success off the court as well. I’m very proud of every single one of them."
In number two singles, the Lady Wildcats Riley Moore made an incredible run to the finals by outlasting Taylor Poe 8-6 of Shady Spring. In the quarterfinals, Moore redeemed a quarterfinal loss last year to Lauren Strobl of Williamstown to advance with an 8-2 win. In the semifinals, Moore devoured Kenzie Fluharty of North Marion 6-3, 6-1 to move on to the state finals against four-time state champion Annie Cimino of Charleston Catholic. Moore was able to push Cimino to a deciding third set before Cimino pulled away. Moore would receive All-State honors for Logan for her performance last week.
On the number three singles side, Brooke Ooten of Logan fell in a tough quarterfinal match to Molly Murphy of Charleston Catholic 8-4.
In doubles, the duo of Thompson and Moore, who took the conference and regional titles this year, defeated Lincoln’s Yanero and Merrill 8-5 to move into the semifinals. There they would face off against Orcutt and Hannah Atassi of Charleston Catholic, and took the eventual champions to the wire in the second set before falling in a tight 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) affair.
Logan’s number two team of Ooten and Ashton McDonald, who also won the conference and regional titles this season, made a tremendous run to the state finals by defeating Byrd and Armstrong from Herbert Hoover 8-2. Then in the semifinals, they knocked out McKinley and Pasco of Oak Glen 6-2, 6-4. In the finals against Charleston Catholic, Ooten and McDonald took Cimino and Murphy the distance, and in a match decided by just a few points, Catholic came out on top 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
On the boys’ side, Logan’s top player and conference champion Jackson Akers battled eventual state champion Nick Giatras of Charleston Catholic to a tiebreaker in one of the best matches of the tournament before Giatras was able to escape with a 9-8 (7-2) victory.
In number two boys’ singles, regional champion Riley Reed moved into the semifinals with an 8-4 win over Robert C. Byrd’s Jacob Brannon. In the semifinals, Reed and Connor Waybright of Charleston Catholic slugged it out for two tough sets before Waybright was able to prevail to move into the finals.
Logan’s number three singles player Sam Adkins, who took home the regional title, advanced to the semifinals with an 8-1 win over Kyle Calloway of Liberty-Raleigh. Adkins would then face Hunter Powell of Keyser next in an exhausting match that went to three sets with Powell pulling out a tough win to move into the finals.
In number one boys’ doubles, Akers and Reed of Logan, who won the conference and regional crowns, knocked off Kuhl and Barnhart of Wood County Christian in the quarterfinals 8-5. In The semis, Akers and Reed fell in a hard-hitting intense match to Catholic’s Giatras and Waybright, who would advance to the finals.
Logan’s number two doubles duo of Adkins and Tristian Burgess, who won the regional title last week, defeated Liberty Raleigh’s Turner and Schmidt 8-1 to move into the semis against Keyser where they fell to Powell and Kitzmiller who would play for the title against Catholic.
In the number three doubles spot, the Wildcats team of Will Stanley and Scotty Browning, who took home the conference and regional titles this season, lost in their semifinal against Catholics Griffith and Hanna who would lose in the finals to Williamstown.