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Eastside's boys fall in first-ever VHSL Class 2 final

Kevin Mays • Jun 9, 2019 at 12:59 AM

BLACKSBURG — Since the start of regional boys tennis play this season, Eastside has played the role of David going against the VHSL Class 2 Goliaths.

On Saturday, the Spartans fell against the biggest Class 2 giant of all.

Powerhouse Maggie Walker wasted little time in taking a 5-0 win over Eastside in the VHSL Class 2 championship at Virginia Tech’s Indoor Tennis Center.

The win gave Maggie Walker, a governor’s school that will move up to Class 3 next year, its fifth boys state tennis title in the past six years.

ALL THE WAY TO STATE

The trip to the state final was as far as any boys tennis team has gone in Eastside’s eight-year history.

Postseason advancement is particularly challenging for the Spartans. Because less than 50 percent of the VHSL Class 1 schools have boys tennis, Eastside has to compete up in Class 2 once it reaches regionals.

The Spartans beat Class 2 Wise Central and Marion in the regional tournament but fell to John Battle in the Region 2D final. They then knocked off Galax — another Class 1 school — in the state quarterfinals and beat Battle 5-4 in a marathon state semifinal match earlier this week.

In the final, playing up finally appeared to take its toll. The experienced Maggie Walker squad kept the Spartans on their heels for most of the match.

Despite the loss, Eastside coach Alicia Jones said she couldn’t have been prouder of her team, which had five seniors in the top six spots.

“I feel like we’re a single-A school coming into a big tournament and I think they’re even going (Class 3) next year,” Jones said. “It was a tough road to begin with, but they knew what to expect. It may not show it in their scores, but they played their hearts out.”

NO TIME FOR DOWNTIME

For Eastside senior Jordan Rasnick, there’s little time to rest.

The Emory & Henry signee will be back at work on Monday with personal training for football drills. Rasnick is hoping to play football and tennis for the Wasps next school year.

Still, on Saturday, Rasnick — who threw for over 4,000 yards during his football career and led the Spartans to the Cumber- land District title his junior season — had his mind where it’s been every spring for the past four years: on the tennis court.

“Last year we came up short and we’ve been at it for four years,” Rasnick said. “We put all our effort in it every day in practice and we said we wanted to make it to the state championship.”

Four of the five starting seniors played varsity since their freshman year. For the four years, the quartet’s goal has been reaching the state final.

“That was our goal. We practiced hard every day and picked up some tougher competition and God blessed us to get here,” Rasnick said. “We came up short, but we’re still thankful.”

ANOTHER SILVER

J.R. Kilgore finished as a member of a state runner-up for the third time in his Eastside career. The senior was a member of the state runner-up basketball team the past two years.

Kilgore said competing in Class 2 in tennis was nothing new for his team.

“We knew that coming in, so we can’t really use that as an excuse,” said Kilgore, who dropped a 6-0, 6-0 decision to William Hobbs at No. 1 singles. “It’s been that way every year since we’ve been in it.”

In other singles matches, Casey Pridgen defeated Shane Campbell 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2, Nathan Lord beat Chris Swann 6-1, 6-2 at No. 4, Tyler Coffey topped Erik Jones 6-0, 6-0 at No. 5 and Ian Switzer won 6-0, 6-1 over Luke Kirk at No. 6.

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