CRHS tennis ends successful season

Chapmanville Regional High School tennis athletes Austin Hanshaw and Alec Stowers at the 2017 Regional Tennis Tournament.

The Lady Tigers’ Cassidy Lewis hits a forehand during the season.

Banner Staff Report

CHAPMANVILLE, W.Va. — At the 2017 high school state tennis tournament, the Chapmanville Regional High School boys’ team let it be known they are a team to be reckon with over the next few years.

With the combination of junior Austin Hanshaw and freshmen Alec Stowers, the Chapmanville boys team was able to finish fourth in the state behind champion Parkersburg Catholic, Ravenswood, and Charleston Catholic, making it the highest finish in school history for Chapmanville, and the second-best finish by a public school team in the state.

The Chapmanville girls’ team of Haley Justice, Cassidy Lewis, Myla Bryant, Sara Lambert, Sravya Pidaparthi, Lasya Pidaparthi, and Samantha Williams was able to place third in the state in 2014, along with the most state championships of any team that year with two, but according to head coach Don Saunders, the boys team is beginning to make a name for themselves as well.

“I’m really happy for the guys’ team,” CRHS coch Don Saunders said. “In my 20-plus years of coaching this is by far the best we’ve done at the state tournament, and these boys are starting to make a name for themselves the same way the girls have. I think they have a lot of great tennis ahead of them.”

Assistant coach Geoff Saunders was impressed with the teams play as well.

“It took the state champions to knock us out,” Saunders said. “With a better draw we might have been able to go deeper, but these guys deserve to be proud of what they’ve done this year. A 14-4 record for the boys, and even a 13-5 record for the girls with our schedule and region is very impressive. I’m looking forward to us getting back again next year and making another run at it.”

The tournament began for Chapmanville with Tigers No. 1 seed Austin Hanshaw bulldozing his way into the quarterfinals with an 8-2 win over Oak Hill for his first state tournament win of his career. Hanshaw would then fall to the eventual state champion from Parkersburg Catholic in the quarterfinals, but finished the season as a top eight player in the state.

Chapmanville’s No. 2 seed Alec Stowers also was able to dispatch of Oak Hill in the first round 8-3 to move into the quarterfinals, where he faced off with the champion from another region, Wheeling Central.

Stowers controlled the match throughout, winning the last six games to take the match 8-2, and make Chapmanville tennis history, as he became the first Tiger player to ever make the state semifinals in singles. (The girls’ championships all came in doubles in 2014.)

Stowers would then run into the eventual state champion from Parkersburg Catholic, and despite a valiant effort from the freshmen, fell in the state semifinals to end his season as a top four player in the state in his division.

In doubles, Hanshaw and Stowers breezed past Independence 8-0 in the first round to make it to the quarterfinals, but once again ran into the wall that was Parkersburg Catholic, as they were defeated 8-4 in one of the most entertaining matches of the tournament.

Chapmanville assistant coach and head coach of the CMS tennis team Chris Kidd said it was a giant leap forward for the boys’ tennis program this year.

“What this entire team did this year was truly remarkable,” Kidd said. “The girls have gotten a lot of the headlines over the past few years, and rightfully so, they’ve had one amazing season after another, but the boys’ team has been coming along tremendously with the talent we’ve been able to find. And Austin Hanshaw, Alec Stowers, Levi Adkins, Tyler Carter, Nick Carter, and Tyler Gore were phenomenal this season. We have all of them back next season as well with the exception of Tyler Gore who is graduating, but this group really likes to get out and work on their games.

“They practice with each other and battle each other and it’s made them a lot stronger. And if they do that again in the off season then next year could be a very interesting year. The poise and toughness Alec and Austin showed at states was incredible. I was so proud of those guys. To take on the best in the state and finish top eight in two categories and top four in another just makes me really happy for those guys. They earned and deserved those results. They’re all great kids.”

On the girls’ side, the lone Chapmanville representative was senior Cassidy Lewis, making her third state tournament appearance of her career.

Lewis finished her career with a loss in the first round to Charleston Catholic, but leaves behind a stellar legacy that includes a state championship in 2014, five cardinal conference individual titles, three conference team titles, a regional team title, a regional final appearance, 123 wins for her career, which is second all-time in Chapmanville history behind her teammate of seven years Myla Bryant, who finished with 136 wins, and Lewis was also named the team captain for her senior season.

Kidd said Lewis helped make the program what it is today.

“I don’t even know where to begin talking about someone as special as Cassidy Lewis has been, and what she has meant to our program,” Kidd said. “When I started coaching her in sixth grade she was just this little girl with glasses who would never talk, and she’s grown into a strong and independent person who works as hard as anyone in the state at what she does. Her heart and determination carried her in her career, and her, along with Myla, Sara, and Samantha Williams who are all leaving us this year as well, they helped make this program what it is today, along with players like Haley Justice, Kylie Clay, Natasha Williams, Sravya and Lasya Pidaparthi, Allie Carter, Emily Stroud, Kristen Justice, and many others. But to go 60-15 as a team these past four years on the girls’ side is an astounding accomplishment with the competition we’ve had, and we wouldn’t have been in that position without players like Cassidy.

“She’s graduating second in her class, and is going to study biology at West Virginia State, so she has so much to look forward to and to be excited about, and I’m so happy for her. But I’ll never forget everything she did for all of us along with all of our other seniors. It was truly a privilege to coach so many wonderful people for seven years. I’ll miss them all.”

Chapmanville Regional High School tennis athletes Austin Hanshaw and Alec Stowers at the 2017 Regional Tennis Tournament. Regional High School tennis athletes Austin Hanshaw and Alec Stowers at the 2017 Regional Tennis Tournament.

The Lady Tigers’ Cassidy Lewis hits a forehand during the season. Lady Tigers’ Cassidy Lewis hits a forehand during the season.
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