Keyser, Frankfort successful at regional tennis tournament
WHEELING — To say the regional tennis tournament in Wheeling earlier this week was a big success for Mineral County might just be an understatement. After the brackets were played through to completion, be assured, everyone assembled could pick out the Black and Gold and Columbia Blue and Silver color schemes of Keyser and Frankfort tennis. Winning has that effect.
A marathon event, the two-day event crowns regional champions, runners-up and such, but also serves as the qualifier for the state tournament. To that end, particularly on the boys’ side, regional champions from Mineral County were crowned, and a large list of Falcon and Golden Tornado tennis players advanced to next week’s state tournament in Charleston.
While both girls’ squads performed admirably and represented their respective schools proudly, in the end, only Frankfort’s number one singles player Erin Clark, who finished second overall in the region, will advance to state.
On the boys’ side, however, there was so much success, and so many advancing to the state tournament from Mineral County, that Keyser would ultimately finish in first place in the region with 22 total points, and Frankfort a close second with 17 points.
It’s important to note that this isn’t some rinky-dink region the two compete in, it’s a region that offers competition, in both class AA and class A, from the likes of Weir, Oak Glen, Wheeling Central Catholic, North Marion, Fairmont Senior, East Fairmont, Ritchie County, St. Marys, Berkeley Springs, and of course, Keyser and Frankfort.
Against all that competition with schools that have rich athletic traditions, Keyser and Frankfort finishing first and second respectively represents quite a turnaround for Keyser, and a re-start for Frankfort.
Just how big of a turnaround and re-start was this? Consider what follows.
At the last regional tournament, Keyser’s boys did not qualify a single player for the state tournament. This time around, the were so successful that they finished first in the region and are sending three singles players and three doubles teams to Charleston.
Those individual players include number two singles’ Alec Stanislawczyk, number three singles’ Hunter Powell, and number four singles’ Kaleb Kitzmiller. Powell and Kitzmiller finished as regional champions.
The doubles teams include number one doubles’ Dylan Wilson and Alec Stanislawczyk, number two doubles Hunter Powell and Kaleb Kitzmiller, and number three doubles’ Stone Kesner and Bryson Bush. Powell and Kitzmiller, Kesner and Bush, finished as regional champions.
At the last regional tournament, there was no Frankfort boys’ team. In fact, for the last 12 years or so, Frankfort boys’ tennis has not existed. This year, a group of friends, totally green in tennis, got together and decided to field a team. They tried last year but COVID put an end to spring sports. In their first year back in 12 years with a group with no real tennis experience, Frankfort finished second in the region and are sending two singles players and a doubles team to Charleston.
Those individual players include number one singles’ Landon Moorehead, and number two singles’ Jake Clark. Clark finished as the regional champion. The doubles team is number two doubles’ Kyle Shumaker and Bryson Lane.
To qualify for the state tournament, individual players and doubles teams were paired against each other in bracketed competition. There were separate brackets in number one, two, three and four singles, and number one, two and three doubles.
In singles, the top four finisher advance to the state tournament, three advance from number two singles, two advance from number three singles, and only the top finisher in four singles advances.
In doubles, the top three finishers advance to the state tournament, two advance from number two doubles, and only the top finisher in three doubles advances.
This year, regional tournament play began on Monday, May 24, with the intention being to totally complete the doubles brackets all on day one. With anywhere from a 70 to 90 percent chance of rain forecasted for Wheeling that day, all play was moved inside the tennis bubble at Wheeling Park to get out of the elements.
Play began at 12 p.m. and continued until approximately 10 p.m. Every match in the doubles bracket was played to completion with the exception of the number three doubles championship between Keyser’s Stone Kesner and Bryson Bush and Frankfort’s Carson Jewell and Brittan Gough. That match was the first match played on day two, Tuesday.
Unlike Monday, on Tuesday, bracketed play for singles’ competition on the boys’ and girls’ sides were moved to two separate locations. All matches for the girls were played at the former Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy. All matches for the boys were played on the campus of the Linsly School.
All singles championships, however, were played at Mount de Chantal, for both the boys and the girls. After over nine hours of play on day two, individual and team championships were awarded.
Guiding the ship for the successful Keyser tennis teams are coaches Lori Wilson and Jason Lambka. Guiding the ship for the successful Frankfort tennis teams are coaches Lori Kenney and Wayne Rice.
Though somewhat affected by COVID scheduling issues, Frankfort and Keyser were able to play a pretty full regular season schedule. Both schools enjoyed great success in the regular season and both schools performed great at the regional tournament. All that remains now is next week’s state tournament in Charleston, one more chance for tennis success for the Falcons and Golden Tornado.