Prep tennis: ’Jackets familiar with runner-up tennis finish

PARKERSBURG – Different opponent.

Same result.

For the second year in a row, the Williamstown boys tennis team finished runner-up in the team standings after qualifying two singles entries during Friday’s Class AA/A Region IV Tennis Championships at City Park.

Last year, the Yellowjackets finished second to Madonna, and this year seven-time defending state champion Charleston Catholic was the culprit.

The Irish not only swept all four singles titles in the boys division, but their girls followed suit with four individual titles as well.

In the t eam standings, Charleston Catholic’s boys finished with 24 points compared to 11 for Williamstown. On the girls side, the Irish dominated with 22 points, but the chase for second place proved to be a showdown between Huntington St. Joe (12) and Chapmanville (10).

After qualifying its Nos. 1 and 2 doubles in the boys brackets on Thursday, the Yellowjackets secured at least one singles qualifier right off the bat in yesterday morning’s quarterfinal round as Luke Flanagan blanked Chapmanville’s Max Spradlin 8-0.

Flanagan ran into a buzzsaw in the semifinal round after losing 8-1 to St. Joseph’s Max Meade. The Yellowjacket junior bounced back in the third-place match with an 8-1 win against Scott’s Caleb Starkey.

“Once I got up 3-0 (in the third-place match), I just felt really confident,” Flanagan said.

Aaron Leo’s road to advancing for Williamstown at No. 2 singles was more involved. The junior needed to win at least two matches and he took care of that in succession after handling Poca’s Jacob Finney 8-3 in the quarterfinals followed by an 8-1 win against Scott’s Blake Chambers in the semifinals.

Leo’s only loss occurred in the finals where Charleston Catholic’s Scott Standish won 8-0.

“I had a little bit of an injury – I had a blister on my toe and my foot started cramping, but he was a really good player,” Leo said.

Of the nine schools in the field, both Williamstown and Parkersburg Catholic represented the Mid-Ohio Valley. The Crusaders were shutout in terms of state qualifiers in the singles division.

The Yellowjackets’ only other state qualifier landed in the third-place match at No. 1 singles in the girls division where Haylee Bayles rolled past Chapmanville’s Natasha Williams 8-0.

Her other two matches on Friday began with an 8-0 win against Mingo Central’s Emily Hatfield in the quarterfinals followed by an 8-1 loss to eventual champion Claire Hamilton of Charleston Catholic.

Bayles, who is the only senior girl listed on the Williamstown roster, advanced to the state meet for the first time. She won’t mind missing a few days of classes.

“I’m fine with it – we’re doing projects at school right now, so I don’t have any homework,” Bayles said. “I’m just excited to be going.”

Last year at this time, Bayles was playing No. 4 singles and No. 3 doubles. She knew there was work to be done on the court in the offseason in order to prepare for the promotion.

“It’s been a big jump,” Bayles said.