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CHAPMANVILLE The Chapmanville Middle School Tennis Team dominated opponents last season. The girls' team rolled to a 15-0 season while the boys' team cruised to a 14-1 mark in putting together one of the best seasons in program history. This season, however, was supposed to be much different.
The girls' team lost five of their six starters, and the boys' team saw three of their top four players move on to high school as well. With this year’s team comprised of 12 new players, and only five returning second-year players, not much was expected out of this young group.
Instead, the girls’ and boys’ teams surprised everyone, winning their eleventh Black Diamond Conference Championship in the program's thirteen-year history, as the girls finished the season 13-4, and the boys fought their way to a 15-2 overall mark.
Head Coach Chris Kidd, who has headed the program for all thirteen years, said this season was one of the most rewarding he’s had coaching in either middle or high school tennis.
“We’ve had a lot to be proud of in middle and high school,” Kidd said. “We’ve had several undefeated seasons in middle school, 11 conference titles now, conference and regional titles in high school, state champions and runners-up in high school, and a team state runner-up this past year, but this is one of the most rewarding and satisfying seasons I’ve had in coaching. Both teams were gutted after last season and I figured we would struggle to win some matches this year just because almost everyone was new. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year. But these kids worked so hard and put in so much effort during the summer and in season to get better, and I love so much that they did it together. Every day you could tell how much they enjoyed spending time with each other and becoming a team together, and that’s the best thing you can see as a coach. Even the day after the season ended and there was no more practice almost all of them came over to the courts together to hit and play just because they didn’t want it to be over. That kind of work and dedication is how you become champions, and they earned every bit of the success they had this season.”
In the Black Diamond Conference Championships last Saturday, Chapmanville took on Man, Madison, and Sherman in Chapmanville for the title with Chapmanville claiming 12 of the 14 divisions, including the girls’ and boys’ overall championships. Madison would claim the #4 boys singles title, while Sherman would take home the #3 boys doubles championship.
In girls' #1 doubles, the Chapmanville team of Olivia Bell and Ella Williams defeated Man 6-0 in the semifinals before meeting Madison in the finals. The two teams split their match-ups in the regular season, and with Bell and Williams down 3-5, they mounted a furious rally to come back and take the title 7-5.
In #2 girls’ doubles, Faith Conley and Alexis Triplett of Chapmanville dominated their way through the field with a 6-0 win over Man, and a 6-1 victory over Sherman to take the championship.
The #3 girl's doubles field saw Rylee Thacker and Beth Hunter of Chapmanville eliminate Man 6-2 in the semifinals and then took the title with a convincing 6-1 win over Sherman in the finals.
In #1 girls’ singles, Chapmanville’s Bell romped her way through her opponents without relinquishing a game, as she took down Man 6-0 in the semifinals, and then did the same to Madison in the finals to claim the title.
The #2 girls’ singles position was taken by Williams of Chapmanville, as she sliced up her competition with a 6-1 win over Man in the semis, and then took down Madison 6-1 in the title match.
In #3 girls’ singles, the Lady Tigers Conley was equally as impressive, as she took down Man 6-1 in the semifinals before blanking Madison 6-0 in the championship.
In #4 singles, Triplett of Chapmanville sped her way past Man 6-2 in the semis, and then took out the top-seeded player from Madison in the title match 6-2 to take her division as well.
Kynlee Webb of Chapmanville was also able to take her title in her division with a 6-0 win over Sherman.
Sweeping all seven positions on the girls’ side was something Coach Kidd said he never imagined at the start of the year.
“I would have laughed if you had told me this back in June,” Kidd said. “And not just because all of our girls except for Olivia were new this season. Madison had a very good girls' team this year, and Sherman and Man have improved a lot and were tough this season. We just put in a lot of work and grinded, and these girls were up to the task. They’re a tough group, and I was so proud and happy for them. Even some of our best teams didn’t take all seven positions in the past, so that speaks to how far they’ve come. Unfortunately, we lose Faith to the high school next year, but all of them are coming back. If they keep working like they did this year then the skies the limit moving forward for these girls.”
On the boys’ side, the Tigers #1 doubles duo of J.T. Curnutte and Fred Marcum escaped a hard-fought semifinal against Madison, staving them off 7-5 to advance to the finals where they outlasted a tough Sherman team 6-3 to take the top prize.
In #2 doubles, Chapmanville’s Connor Williamson and Jonah Perry came out on fire as they eliminated Man 6-1 in the semis, and then took down the top-rated team from Madison 6-2 in the finals to take the title.
In #3 doubles, Jonah Jarrell and Brodie Wolfe of Chapmanville were able to advance to the finals with a 6-0 win over Man, and nearly came from behind to pull off the upset in the finals against the top-ranked team from Sherman, but the Tide were able to hang on for a hard fought 6-3 win.
The #1 singles spot was dominated by the Tigers Curnutte, as he took down Madison 6-1 in the semifinals, and then controlled the finals as he won the title 6-1 over Sherman.
In #2 singles, Marcum was equally as impressive as he took care of Man 6-0 in the semis, and won the final five games of his final to defeat Madison 6-2 for the championship.
Williamson of Chapmanville was able to take the #3 singles spot after defeating Man 6-0 in the semifinals and then battled his way through a slugfest with Sherman in the finals that saw Williamson edge out his opponent 6-4 to take the crown.
In #4 singles, the Tigers Perry overcame an illness in the semifinals to defeat Man 6-4, but came up short in the finals as Madison was able to take the title.
Chapmanville’s Jasper Bryant and Ryan Mullins were also able to take their division title, as the duo defeated Madison 6-2 to claim the championship.
Coach Kidd said the boys' team overcame a lot of obstacles to win the championship this season.
“We lost three of our top four boys from last year, and three of our four boys this year had never played singles before, we had a lot of illnesses for the boys this season, so these guys had to fight through a lot of adversity and obstacles to do this,” Kidd said. “The boys’ side was stacked this year. Man had a lot of good athletes on their boys’ side and were tough to play. Madison had a lot of size and athleticism and talent. Sherman gave us one of our two losses this year and were strong top to bottom across the board. Kyle, Nick, and Brad are all doing great jobs with their programs. I felt our guys had a shot this year. We had a lot of new faces, but at least we had four players with some experience, unlike the girls. So, we had something to build off of, and these boys just took it to another level when they needed to. They worked and practiced hard all year and were able to take the county and conference titles in a tough year to do it. I’m beyond happy and proud of them.”
Chapmanville will return 15 of the 17 players currently on their roster for next season’s team, and Kidd said expectations will shift come next fall.
“I hate that we lose Faith and Fred,” Kidd said. “They brought so much joy and fun to this team, but I’m really excited to have them on the high school team and to keep seeing them improve. They’re both amazing kids. It’s going to be great having 15 of the 17 from this year back next year, and hopefully, we’ll be able to pick up more kids as well. I want as many as possible to join to learn and compete in tennis. It’s a wonderful sport. Next year though, we’ll have different expectations than this year, but I don’t doubt for a second that these kids will keep working to get better. The more you work and get better it gives you chances to smile more and be happier with yourself, and this group has that mindset. They’re all wonderful kids with great and fun parents who have been so helpful. I’m proud of the environment we have around this program and the high school program, and it’s all because of the people involved in it. I appreciate everyone more than they know.”