Huntington High begins defense of tennis titles
HUNTINGTON -- The Huntington High boys and girls tennis teams have won back-to-back state titles and begin their quest for three in a row Thursday in Charleston.
Many of the Highlanders are also looking to defend individual achievements, which can bring some pressure.
"I do feel there is pressure, expectations from my teammates, my family and my friends," said Hunter Tubert, a sophomore who won the boys singles No. 1 bracket last year. "They all think I can win, but it's a tough competition."
State tournament matches Thursday begin at 8 a.m. for Class AAA on the Kanawha City Community Center courts and for Class AA/A on the Coonskin Park courts.
Tubert said individual success and team success don't get in the way of one another at the state level.
"You go out there and do the best you can for yourself, but the better you do the more it helps the team," he said. "You're not only working for yourself, you're working for your team."
Huntington High is loaded with talent, sweeping every boys event at the Region IV finals last week, and winning all but two girls events.
But Tubert said no one is getting ahead of themselves.
"To win state, we're going to have to beat GW (George Washington)," he said. "They've beaten us in the regular season, so we'll see how it goes. We're looking to make a great run, and I think we have a chance to do really well."
In the boys doubles competition, Tubert is paired with Campbell Neighborgall in the No. 1 bracket. The two defeated Hurricane in the regional final, 8-4, last week.
"He's a great friend of mine and a good player," Tubert said. "I feel like we've gotten more of a connection the more we play. He's a great player who can hold his own, and is a lot of fun to play with."
Huntington High will have a regional champion in all four state singles brackets, and a regional champ in all three doubles brackets.
On the girls side it's much the same, except Hurricane will have a player in the No. 4 bracket and a doubles team in the No. 3 bracket.
Cassie Mercer from Huntington High will look to defend her singles and doubles championships from last year.
The Highlanders also have Kate Huck, who made a finals run in the No. 2 bracket last year, and Rachel Subik, who won the No. 3 bracket in 2012 coming back for singles and doubles competition.
"I feel like the girls have a great chance," Tubert said, playing the role of handicapper. "Kate Huck made a run and Subik won last year, I think they have a great chance at winning state."
The tournament continues Friday at the same locations and concludes Saturday on the Kanawha City courts.