by Aaron Garcia
For the first time in his career, Marvin Ridge tennis player Joey Hatala will be competing in the Class 3A individual Midwest Regional as a singles player after teaming last year with Alex Treske to win the doubles crown. Hatala won the Southern Carolina 3A/4A tournament to claim the conference’s top seed in the state playoffs.
Despite being just a junior, Marvin Ridge coach Vijay Shankar said Hatala’s experience has been invaluable as the Mavericks have entered the postseason – the Mavs won their first-round dual-team match against Shelby Crest, 6-0 on May 3 and face Charlotte Catholic on Tuesday, May 10.
“(Hatala) is a very dedicated player and he’s also a very good kid, so he’s a great kid to have on your team,” said Shankar. “The other kids look up to him. In practices he works very hard and I think the other kids follow his lead. He’s definitely a good role model for the other kids to follow.”
Parkwood’s Giorgi Deridze also qualified for regionals by finishing as the conference’s runner up in singles competition. The league also will send a pair of doubles teams to the regional competition. The Weddington tandem of Steven Denny and Joey Schwartz erased a 5-2 deficit against Marvin Ridge’s Nick Barnas and Cullen Kelleher in the third and final set to take the Southern Carolina 3A/4A doubles crown, 7-5. Kelleher and Barnas also qualified for regionals.
The Class 3A individual Midwest Regionals begin May 6 at Charlotte’s Waddell High School at 2 p.m.
Cuthbertson’s Josh Walker qualified for the Class 2A Midwest Regional by finishing in second place at last month’s Rocky River 1A/2A conference tournament. Walker lost to West Stanly’s Weston Smith, 6-3, 6-2, in the finals. Walker’s teammate Adam Schneeberger also qualified by finishing in third place; Schneeberger lost to Smith in the Semifinals, 6-3, 6-4.
The Cavs did finish the season with a conference championship in doubles competition as Shaun Howell and Roland Deslaurers downed West Stanly’s duo of Bobby Shires and Daniel Jenkins, 7-5, 6-3.
The Class 2A individual Midwest Regional will be held Friday-Saturday, May 6-7 at Salisbury’s Catawba College.