LOGAN, W.Va. — Though mostly female, the Knights still have a small army headed to Charleston.
The Point Pleasant tennis teams had four players advance to the state level following the 2018 Class AA-A Region IV tournaments held last Thursday and Friday at Logan High School in Logan County.
Both the Black Knights and Lady Knights had at least one player earn repeat trips to the state meet, while two other ladies are headed to the championships for the first time in their varsity careers.
The Lady Knights will be competing in the second and fourth singles competitions, as well as the second doubles tournament. The Black Knights have a single competitor going in the first singles finals.
The quartet of Dawson Wilson, Bailey Barnett, Sarah Deem and Caroline Foreman are believed to be the most state qualifiers for the tennis program in any one season in school history. Deem is also making a bit of history as she will compete in both singles and doubles play at the same tournament.
Junior Dawson Wilson is headed back to Charleston for a second consecutive postseason after finishing fourth with a 2-2 record in first singles, a major step up from reaching the state semifinals in third singles a year ago.
Wilson — who currently holds a 12-7 record this spring — joins Kylenn Criste as the only two-time state qualifiers in Black Knights history.
PPHS boys coach John Fields acknowledged the leap from third singles to first singles since last May, noting it shows the real growth that Wilson has made over a short span of time.
Fields is also confident that Wilson’s experience at the state level has not only helped this year, but should also be a real bonus headed into the weekend.
“He seemed a little reluctant when I first told him he’d be making the jump to first singles at the beginning of the year, but he’s taken it head on and really continued to grow as a player because of it,” Fields said. “I knew he was mentally tough and could handle the challenge, but even I am impressed with what he’s been able to do this season. He’s playing the best tennis of his high school career, his confidence is still growing and he is used to the big surroundings that he’ll be in this weekend. We’re excited for Dawson and we are looking forward to seeing what he can do this weekend.”
The Lady Knights will putting an exclamation mark on a 2018 campaign that saw the Red and Black post a 9-5-1 overall mark.
Senior Bailey Barnett is headed back to Charleston for a second consecutive postseason after finishing third with a 2-1 record in second singles. Barnett — who is 16-3 overall this season — is also headed back to second singles play at the state level after reaching the semifinal round last spring.
Sarah Deem will be a busy girl during her state debut, as the junior will be competing in the fourth singles tournament while also joining classmate Caroline Foreman in second doubles play.
Deem was the Region IV champion in fourth singles, posting a perfect 3-0 record while improving her season mark to 18-1 overall.
Deem and Foreman entered the Region IV tournament with an 8-7 record as a doubles squad, but the duo found their rhythm and went 3-1 overall en route to a runner-up finish.
PPHS girls coach Kim Napora was thrilled to have three girls advance in three separate state events, but the venerable mentor also noted that hard work does pay off in the long run.
“The girls worked hard in the offseason and they worked hard in the regular season because they knew what they’d be coming up against in trying to get to state,” Napora said. “I’m very proud of all of the girls this season, because we’ve had a great year, but to have this many girls competing at state really means a lot to the tennis program … and to me. I’m really looking forward to seeing how far these kids can go.”
The Region IV tournament also witnessed the final matches for Point Pleasant seniors Olivia Pyles, Danielle Marcum and Hayden Fetty.
The Class AA-A championships start with singles competition at 8 a.m. Thursday, then moves to doubles play at 8 a.m. Friday. The tournament will conclude Saturday, and all events are tentatively scheduled to be held at Coonskin Park.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.