No. 1 seeds cruise at OVAC tennis

WHEELING – Heavy was the head that was going after the crown.

John Marshall’s Hayden Blazer knew he was the favorite to win the OVAC Boys’ No. 1-seed singles championship that barely eluded his grasp last year.

He was the No. 1 seed at No. 1 after all.

The senior knew it was his last chance, and he admitted the nerves were active.

Despite being undefeated, and having victories against his likely competition, he knew anything could happen.

“There is a lot of pressure,” Blazer said. “Everyone expects you to do well. When you are a sophomore, or a junior, you go through the progressions. You get beat. You always have next year. Last year, I was able to get to the finals (falling to Cambridge senior Cody Engstrom). I wanted to take it one step further this time. It was my last one.”

He had little trouble in crusing to the OVAC title.

Blazer breezed by his first two matches, beating Indian Creek’s Justin Caniff 8-0 and Steubenville’s Mike Rosaschi 8-0.

He then defeated Wheeling Central’s Jonathan Haley 8-2 to get back to the championship match, where he faced Killian Stappen of Morgantown.

It was a little closer, but Blazer got the title he was after, and kept his record a perfect 22-0, defeating Stappen 8-6.

Morgantown edged Parkersburg South for the Class 5A championship, 22-18. John Marshall was third with 11.

Wheeling Central’s boys won the Class 1A-4A title, winning a tiebreaker with Linsly. Both had eight points. East Liverpool, Madonna and Steubenville had five points each.

Blazer’s teammate, Austin Litman, also advanced to the championship in the No. 3 singles, faling to Morgantown’s Adam McKnight 8-1.

Steven Wu of Morgantown won the No. 2 singles title, beating Garrett Dailey of Parkersburg South 8-0 and Michael Derrico of Morgantown defeated Wheeling Park’s Ollie Marra 8-1.

Unlike many of his competitors at the No. 1 seed, Blazer did not start playing tennis until sixth grade, when he took up the game with his sister.

He was tutored under area tennis professional Jeremy McClelland when he started.

Blazer had picked up a championship earlier in the week when he teamed with sophomore Tyler Keller to beat No. 2 Parkersburg South’s team of Grant Tebay and Garrett Daily 8-6. That was after dispatching No. 1-seeded Morgantown in the semifinals.

“It was a pretty big deal, because we had lost to them in the regular season,” Blazer said. “We had everything come together. It was nice to win a doubles championship in my last OVAC tournament.”

As the OVAC boys’ No. 1 singles participants found out, it is darn near impossible.

The OVAC Tennis Tournament wraps up today with the girls’ singles competition, which will be held at West Liberty University barring more inclement weather.

If rain is forecast it will be held at the Wheeling Park tennis bubble for the fourth day.