WHEELING - Linsly's Jackie McDermott may be new to the prep tennis ranks, but this freshman is wise beyond her years.
She made her first big statement Wednesday during the OVAC Girls' Tennis Tournament at the Wheeling Park Bubble, claiming the No. 2 Singles championship and helping her Cadets to the Class AAA-A championship.
Morgantown was crowned the Class AAAA and overall champions. Morgantown and Linsly tied with 17 points, but the Mohigans captured the banner by virtue of more champions (three) than the Cadets (one).
PHOTO BY JOSH STROPE
Linsly freshman tennis standout Jackie McDermott made a big statement Wednesday by winning the No. 2 Singles championship at the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Tournament at the Wheeling Park Bubble.
One of those champions came Monday during the doubles' portion when the team of Stephanie Arnold and Alissa Sun topped McDermott and her older sister, Morgan, 8-4.
It was a loss that ate at Jackie for the next 48 hours.
''I was really upset set at myself for letting the championship go (Monday),'' Jackie said. ''My sister and I were the No. 1 seed for the doubles championship, and I really wanted to get it for her. She is a junior and we only have one more year together. I played a good semifinal on Monday, but I didn't feel like I was all there in the final. Mostly nerves.
''I came back (Wednesday) focused, ready, intense. This was for her and you will see us next year.''
In order to get that title, McDermott had to again get by Sun. This one was all her, though. McDermott led from the outset and put away Sun, 8-4.
''I definitely wanted to hit to the backhand, hit short shots and move her around,'' McDermott said. ''I know I am usually a consistent player and I felt the long points would favor me. I wanted to stay in the point. It's all about grit and I wanted to be gritty. Move her and stay focused. I came up with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder from Monday and I wanted to get her in that singles match.
''My semifinal was really tough (an 8-5 victory against University's Meghan Zerkel) and I felt I played a little tentatively. I really wanted to come out in this one with a lot of confidence and get it done. I think I played the best I can. I have been working really hard and it feels like all my hours in the gym, all my hours in the court, it all came out. I feel like all these years of hard work paid off.''
It was the type of performance befitting of the top seed as McDermott pushed her OVAC record to 14-0.
And while McDermott may have surprised some people, Linsly coach Dave Riethmiller has seen it coming for years.
''We knew that would be a great match as both girls are great players,'' Riethmiller said. ''Jackie is a real competitor and I felt really confident she would come through for us right there. She has been a very good tennis player for a number of years, playing some USTA tennis, so I have been looking forward to her becoming a freshman.''
McDermott may have been Linsly's lone champion, but the Cadets had two runners-up.
At No. 4 Singles, top-seeded Lexi Patterson of Wheeling Park defeated Linsly's Hannah Soloninka, 8-3. At No. 4, University's Ally Rees overcame a rally by Regan Stein to win the title, 9-7.
Rees led 5-4 before Stein took the lead. After Rees went back in front 7-6, Stein tied it again. The Hawks freshman closed out Stein with the final two points.
''We had a real slow start in the doubles competition, but the girls really came on strong (Wednesday),'' Riethmiller said. ''I'm real proud of them. It's really nice that we have the AAA-A title and it's nice that they are crowning two champions now.''
Arnold was the lone champion for Morgantown. She defeated Wheeling Park's C.J. Petrini, 8-3, in the No. 1 Singles final.
Petrini advanced to the championship match after rallying from 6-1 down in the semifinals to beat Morgan McDermott. Petrini scored the first point against Arnold before losing the next four. She closed the gap to one by winning the next two points, before Arnold put her away by claiming the last four.
''It was a really tough couple of days and we were biting our nails all day,'' Morgantown coach Ted Greenlee said. ''We pulled it out there with our No. 1 Singles. To get this trophy in our first year in the tournament is really special. Last year we had our best team ever and to win the OVACs with the team we have now really shows we are building a very good program.''
Wheeling Park finished one point behind Morgantown to earn second place in Class AAAA. Wheeling Central was the runner-up in Class AAA-A.
Rees was selected as the winner of the Carol Strasser Sportsmanship Award.