Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 9, 2013

Making a racket

Bluefield boys tennis seeks return to state glory

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Bluefield High School won the West Virginia Class AA-A boys tennis championship in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Wednesday afternoon the Beavers left for Charleston on a mission, that mission is to perform to the best of their ability and bring back the school’s fourth state tennis championship.

The Beavers have rolled through the season with two undefeated singles players, Justin Freund and Jose Tarin and the unbeaten doubles team of Tyler Myers and Paul Hoffmann.

While Freund has played the game since he was in middle school, Myers began last year and Tarin, an exchange student from Seville, Spain, is playing tennis for the first time this season.

Freund, a senior, believes if the team stays focused they can achieve their goals as individuals and as a team.

“If I put my heart into it and we work really hard, we can beat anybody in the state. It would be hard, but we can,” Freund said. “St. Joe’s (Huntington) has a No. 1 (player) who is really strong and then Charleston Catholic is always up there. Those are the main two, but every match at No. 1 singles is probably going to be tough.”

Freund was a member of the soccer team at Bluefield that advanced to states for the first time this past fall. He commented on the differences in playing at the state level in the two sports.

“It’s a lot less people. In soccer you have 20-some guys on your team and there’s 11 playing at one time,” Freund pointed out. “In tennis it’s almost kind of more stressful because you’re by yourself. You’re out there and everybody is watching you, or you may have one partner. For the most part it’s more of an individualized sport.”

Freund teams up with Tarin in doubles. The Spanish exchange student also played on the soccer team and wrestled this winter at Bluefield. He expects a challenge en route to the finals.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Tarin said. “When we played regionals we won every game. When we go there it’s probably not going to be that easy.”

Myers, a starting lineman for the Beavers’ football team is also used to playoff competition but this is new territory for him in tennis.

“I think we all need to stay focused and play our best and hopefully everything falls where it will and we’ll see what happens,” Myers said.

Myers will not participate in singles, but will team up with Paul Hoffmann in No. 3 doubles. While the Myers-Hoffmann team will have to win only two matches to take state, Myers knows it will not be easy.

“In the first round we have Keyser, so I am sure they will be good,” Myers said. “They are usually upstate every year, so we have to try to get by them first.”

Hoffmann is an exchange student from Germany, having arrived in Bluefield last August. In  addition to playing doubles with Myers, Hoffmann is also playing No. 3 singles in Charleston.

Cindy Stonestreet is the Beavers’ coach. The mother of three former Bluefield tennis players who went on to play at the collegiate level, she said the toughest obstacle for Bluefield will be the Catholic schools, Charleston Catholic and Huntington St. Joseph.

“We call ourselves the public school champion,” Stonestreet said. “We’ve finished the last few years behind them.”

She spoke of the character of the team.

“Every single player is important,” Stonestreet said. “They will play with each other, they support each other and I think another great attribute is the three seniors (Freund, Myers, Austin Tyree) are in the top 10 (of their class). They are student-athletes. They’re smart kids.”

Freund said there is a tradition at Bluefield and he and the members of the team are well aware of  what is at stake when the state tournament starts today in Charleston.

“You walk down the hallway and you see when they won back in the early 2000s,” Freund said. “I walk by every day, seeing them, state champions and you definitely want to live up to that every time you go up there (state tournament). It feels great to be able to go up there year-after-year for Bluefield High School tennis.”

The Beavers hope to snag the crown from Charleston Catholic, winners of the last seven titles and eight of the last nine.

Action gets underway this morning and the tournament continues through Saturday in the capital city.

—Contact Bob Redd