By Cam Huffman
The tennis courts in Charleston will be filled with Nike bags, empty ball cans, Gatorade bottles and plenty of talent.
The state high school tennis tournament is set to begin Thursday in the Capital City. The Class AAA boys and girls will play at the Kanawha City Community Center Tennis Courts and the Class AA/A boys and girls will take the courts at the Coonskin Park Tennis Courts.
Both sites will be full of area netters competing for both individual and team glory.
Here’s a look at the local faces that will be putting their skills to the ultimate test.
In the battle among top seeds, Shady Spring’s Ryan Albaugh and Princeton’s William Robertson are two of the 16 players from around the state that will get a chance at a championship in the top bracket. Albaugh will play Grant Davis of Martinsburg in the first round, while Robertson will take on Will Wheatley of Washington.
Jacob Buckland of Shady Spring will be in the hunt at the No. 2 singles spot. He’ll take on Cullen Irvinig from Washington High School in the opening round. Oak Hill’s Christian Heath is also in that bracket, and he’ll face Isaac Washington of Jefferson.
In the No. 3 seed bracket, Oak Hill’s Nick Oxendale qualified and will face Parkersburg’s Tristram Spitsnaugle in the opening match.
Four area players will compete in the No. 1-seed bracket for the state’s smaller schools. Justin Freund of Bluefield will play Logan Webster of Berkeley Springs in an opening match, and Coben Canada of Wyoming East will face Alec Moran of Lincoln.
Ryan Moore of Liberty will do battle with Cam Hornor of Bridgeport in that same bracket, while Tyler Gordon of Independence will play Grafton’s Mitch Crutchfield.
In the battle of second-seeds in Class AA/A, Bluefield’s Jose Tarin will get a bye through the opening round. He’ll face the winner of Kyle Surbert of Mingo Central and Drew Poling of St. Mary’s in the second round.
Ian Witt of Wyoming East will play Ankur Makani of Petersburg in a battle of No. 2s. Josh Borelli of Independence will play Jacob Shumaker of Keyser.
Paul Hoffman of Bluefield will take on Marcus Moore of St. Mary’s in the No. 3 singles bracket, while Michael Culicerto of Wyoming East will play Gus Schmidt of Wheeling Central.
Adam Tolliver of Independence will play Michael Fouts of Bridgeport in the No. 4 bracket.
Albaugh and Buckland will represent the Tigers in the No. 1 doubles bracket, opening up against the No. 2 pair from Musselman. Robertson and Jacob Jones of Princeton will also be competing in that bracket, taking on a doubles pair from Washington.
Oxendale will team with Joel Bracken to represent Oak Hill in the No. 2 doubles bracket against a team from University.
Bluefield’s No. 1 doubles team of Freund and Tarin will get a bye through the opening round of the No. 1 doubles bracket.
They’ll face the winner of a matchup between teams from St. Joe and Wheeling Central in the second round.
Wyoming East will also have a team in the No. 1 doubles bracket — Canada and Witt will face a team from Keyser to open their run for a title — and Independence’s Tyler Gordon and Tolliver will take on a team from Bridgeport in that same bracket.
Independence’s No. 2 doubles team of Joshua Borelli and Caleb Pell will play a team from Wheeling Central in the opening round of that bracket, while the Wyoming East team of Culicerto and Nathan England will play a team from St. Mary’s.
Hoffman and William Myers of Bluefield will play a team from Keyser in the No. 4 doubles bracket.
Shady Spring’s No. 1 will compete for the top prize in the girls’ singles division, just as Albaugh will be doing for the boys. Carly Kilmer will represent the Tigers against Sarah Law of Lewis County in the opening round.
Erin Johnson will make the trip to Charleston to compete in the No. 2 singles bracket. The Greenbrier East representative will take on Buckhannon’s Caroline Nanners in the opening match.
Four area standouts will compete in the No. 1 singles bracket. Molly Lovern of Bluefield will take on Marissa Merrill of Lincoln to open play. Wyoming East’s Savannah Lusk is set for a matchup with Alexis Alastanos of Bridgeport. Hannah Bowman from Independence will face Grafton’s Hailey Rogers, while Paige Giammerino of Liberty will have an opening-round matchup against Petersburg’s Kelsie Roby.
In the No. 2 singles bracket, Alex Lewis of Bluefield will receive an opening-round bye. She’ll face the winner between Poca’s Courtney Mobley and Madonna’s Ali Welch in a second-round game.
Krista Harris will also play in the No. 2 bracket. The Independence standout will face Sierra Malcolm in the opening round. Sara Walker of Westside will take on Jenna McKee of Bridgeport.
Sarah Brady of Bluefield will play Bess McNabb of Ravenswood in a No. 3 singles match, while Shayla Stephens of Liberty will play Abbi Sayre of Oak Glen in that same bracket.
Bluefield’s Clair Bailey will play Keyser’s Kari Amtower in the No. 4 singles bracket.
Woodrow Wilson will be represented at the state tournament by its No. 2 doubles team of Hannah Heft and Madison Fox. They’ll take the court against a team from Musselman in the first round.
Bowman and Harris will represent Independence in the No. 1 doubles bracket. They’ll have a bye through the first round before facing the winner of a matchup of teams from Chapmanville and Oak Glen in the opening round. Zoe Nicewater and Alexandria Lewis of Bluefield will play a team from Grafton in the opening round, while Paige Giammerino and Alyssa Belcher of Liberty will face a team from Petersburg.
Molly Lovern and Claire Bailey from Bluefield will play an Oak Glen team in the No. 2 doubles bracket, while Liberty’s Shayla Stephens and Ricki Smith will play a team from East Fairmont.
In the No. 3 doubles bracket, Bluefield’s Sarah Brady and Brooke Cundiff will play a team from Keyser.
— E-mail: chuffman
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.