The Times West Virginian

Prep Sports

May 4, 2014

Corder, Grace take 2nd at Big 10s

CLARKSBURG — Tennis is a different style of sport, one that requires mental toughness, precision and finesse.

Saturday during the Big 10 tennis tournament at Robert C. Byrd High School, East Fairmont proved that it also takes Grace... that’s Grace with a capital G.

Sophomore Ashley Grace teamed up with junior Marcie Corder to take second in the No. 3 doubles bracket, finishing just one win shy of the title.

Grace said the key was her familiarity with her partner.

“We’ve been playing for so long that we play really well together,” she said. “We really came out and were excited to come play today.”

Corder admitted to feeling some nerves during their 8-2 loss in the finals. But overall she was pleased with the team’s performance.

“I’m happy about it,” she said. “I got further than I did last year.”

To advance to the finals, Corder and Grace had to first get through cross-town rival Fairmont Senior in the semifinals. In a back and forth match, the East duo edged Eviana Barnes and Jasmine Johnson, 8-6.

Fairmont Senior coach Mark Giorcelli saw several positives in the match.

“They’re both very competitive because they’re athletes,” he said of Barnes (a soccer player) and Johnson (a basketball and volleyball player). “I told (Barnes), with that kind of attitude, you won’t allow yourself to lose much more in the future. In the near future, she’s going to dominate and never look back.”

Several others from Marion County also advanced to the semifinals, including North Marion’s No. 3 doubles team of Breanna Lewis and Rebecca Luketic.

The pair of freshmen had never played tennis before this season. But after winning the phys-ed class championship, they decided to give it a shot.

It paid off Saturday.

“I was extremely proud of them,” said North Marion tennis coach Mary Ann Mullenax. “The first time they picked up the racket was March 3. They came from nothing and made it as far as they did.”

Similarly, East Fairmont freshmen Isaac and Evan Flohr picked up a racket for the first time this season. East coach Rodney Anselene had Evan in his phys-ed class and saw some promise when they were playing pickleball.

After some convincing, Anselene handed over some paperwork to join the team. When he did, Evan asked for another set, one for his twin brother.

“I got a two-for-one deal,” Anselene laughed.

The twins teamed up to make it to the semifinals in No. 3 doubles.

“I think they're very promising kids,” Anselene continued. “They're very athletic kids. With that athleticism and a little bit of skill they can go a long way.”

The final semifinalists, Brittiany Brumage and Alexis Protesta, had to overcome some adversity to make it to the round of four in No. 2 doubles.

Brumage’s usual partner had to withdraw yesterday due to an injury. Anselene decided Protesta was the right player to step in.

“Alexis hasn’t really had a good opportunity to play varsity this season, but recognizing the things that she can do, that’s why we made the call for her,” he said. “We know she can come in and play some doubles and hit some good serves and play aggressively.”

Anselene added that Brumage “showed a lot of leadership to keep the team together.”

All of the Marion County teams will look to build on the experience when postseason play continues Thursday with regionals at Wheeling Jesuit University.

“I think the region is going to hold a lot of tough teams,” said Giorcelli. “The fight to get to state is going to be another one to sit back and see what happens.”

Email Mike DeFabo at mdefabo@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.

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