The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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May 15, 2014

A family tennis tradition

Greenbrier East’s von Dohlen sets sights on state tournament

Twenty-four times during the regular season, Greenbrier East’s Tom von Dohlen took to the tennis court, and 24 times he shook hands with his opponent as the victor.

In 12 singles matches and 12 doubles matches with his partner, Cordel Bostic, the Spartans’ top seed was undefeated, dominating opponents from all over the region.

“I had really been pushing myself, knowing that it’s all about me and nobody else,” said von Dohlen. “Since tennis is an individual sport, what I do reflects on me and not the team.

“I didn’t expect an undefeated season, but it was something I definitely wanted. I’d been busting it to get better.”

In last week’s regional, von Dohlen finally experienced the agony of defeat.

After a first-round bye in the Class AAA Region 3 tournament, von Dohlen, the No. 2 seed in the boys’ No. 1 bracket, defeated Princeton’s Adam Anderson and then moved on to face Shady Spring’s Ryan Albaugh in the semifinals.

Again, von Dohlen found victory, moving into the championship game with a 14-0 singles record for the season.

There, he finally met his match in George Washington’s Ryan Massinople.

“I lost 8-0, but I was exhausted,” said von Dohlen, who explained that the regional matches were all played in one day and he had spent all his energy reaching the final. “I was happy to be there, and I just wanted a good match. I took him to deuce almost every game.”

Despite the loss, von Dohlen, a senior, punched his ticket to the state tournament as the region’s No. 2 seed in the No. 1 bracket.

“It means a lot,” said von Dohlen, whose father (Tom) played tennis at the University of Georgia and whose mother (Rene’ Nuckols von Dohlen) played in the state tournament in high school. “I have grown up around tennis. It’s a family sport, and I wanted to represent the family well.”

The story was much the same in doubles.

The East team cruised to a pair of victories over teams from Ripley in Shady Spring to get into the No. 1 doubles finals at the region tournament, but their 14-0 record also saw its first blemish when the team ran into Massinople again, along with his partner, Zach Koenig.

The GW team, which swept every title at the regional, won again, relegating the East team to the second spot at the regional in the state tournament, which begins today at Charleston Catholic High School.

“We took them to deuce every game,” said von Dohlen. “We lost 8-0, but it was really a good match.”

A motivated von Dohlen will look to start a new winning streak today when he takes on Parkersburg South’s Grant Tebay in the opening round of the 16-man Class AAA No. 1 singles bracket at 9 a.m. The best news for von Dohlen is that he wouldn’t face Massinople until Saturday’s championship game.

“It could happen,” he said of a possible rematch. “But I just want to win my first match and then take it from there. I think I got a good draw.”

Bostic and von Dohlen will also avoid the GW team until the finals if they can find a way to advance in the No. 1 doubles bracket. Their path begins today at 5 p.m. against a team from John Marshall.

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Also in the Class AAA No. 1 singles bracket is Shady Spring’s Albaugh. He’ll take on John Blader of John Marshall in the opening round today at 9 a.m.

In the Class AA boys singles bracket, von Dohlen’s teammate and doubles partner, Bostic, will be playing today at 11 a.m., taking on Steven Wu of Morgantown. Oak Hill’s Christian Heath is in the same bracket. The senior will play Garret Dailey of Parkersburg South at 11 a.m.

In the No. 3 singles bracket, Nick Oxendale is the only area representative. The Oak Hill senior will play Josh Roberts from Parkersburg.

Several Class AA/A players will also represent the area, including Independence’s Adam Tolliver and Wyoming East’s Nathan England in No. 1 singles. Tolliver will play Jonathon Haley from Wheeling Central, while England will take on Oak Glen’s Addison Sayre today at 8 a.m. at the Kanawha city Community Tennis Center, where the AA/A matches will be held.

In the No. 2 singles bracket, Ashton Johnson of Liberty will get a bye to the second round, where he’ll face the winner between Charleston Catholic’s Andrew Jones and Keyser’s Logan Montgomery. Nick Lawrence of Westside will play in the first round, taking on Blake Hoke of Fairmont Senior at 10 a.m. Alec Lusk of Wyoming East will also hit the court at 10 a.m., facing Thomas Gianni of Madonna.

Garrett Bailey of Westside is the lone area representative in the Class AA/A No. 3 seed bracket. He’ll play Billy Teufel of Wheeling Central in today’s first round.

Doubles teams from the area will also be playing for the big prize. Tolliver and Caleb Miller from Independence will compete in the No. 1 doubles bracket, taking on a team from St. Marys today at 2:30 p.m. Wyoming East’s top doubles team of England and Lusk will also compete in that bracket, playing a team from Madonna.

The No. 2 doubles bracket in Class AA will include Trenton Calloway and Luke Stover of Liberty playing against a team from St. Marys.

In Class AAA, von Dohlen and Bostic will represent Greenbrier East in the No. 1 doubles bracket. Their first-round match will be at 5 p.m. against a team from John Marshall. Shady Spring’s Albaugh and Akshay Kesari are also in that bracket, playing a team from Parkersburg South.

The No. 2 doubles bracket for Class AAA will include Oak Hill’s team of Oxendale and Joel Bracken, playing a team from Parkersburg in the opening round on Friday.

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Area girls won’t be left out of the action, either.

Carley Killmer of Shady Spring is the only area representative in Class AAA No. 1 singles. She’ll take on Parkersburg’s Cassandra Powell at 10 a.m.

Shady’s No. 2, Nicole Fama, will also make the trip, playing Morgantown’s Lexie Rosiello at noon in her bracket.

The area will be well represented in the Class AA/A singles competition, beginning with the No. 1 bracket, which will include Wyoming East’s Savanna Lusk, Westside’s Sara Walker and Hannah Bowman from Independence. All will play at 9 a.m., with Lusk taking on Wheeling Central’s Joanna Capito, Walker playing Oak Glen’s Haley Spurlock and Bowman doing battle with Ali Welch of Madonna.

In the No. 2 bracket, Liberty’s Shayla Stephens will play Weir’s Barbie Sulimanova and Wyoming East’s Erika Kissel will play Cara Laswell of East Fairmont. Both matches are scheduled for 10 a.m.

Liberty’s Emilee Russell will be the only area athlete in the No. 3 bracket. She’ll take on Elizabeth Conforti of Madonna.

In the girls doubles bracket, Woodrow Wilson’s No. 1 team of Hannah Heft and Madison Fox will be on the court this evening at 6 p.m., taking on a team from University.

Wyoming East’s Lusk and Kissel will play a team from Weir in the No. 1 doubles bracket for Class AA/A, and Bowman and Fletcher of Independence will also be in that bracket, playing a team from Madonna. Both matches will be at 2:30 p.m.

Liberty’s team of Shayla Stephens and Ricki Smith will play in the No. 2 doubles bracket, facing a team from Madonna in the opening round on Friday.

— E-mail: chuffman and

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