Varnum leads Midland Knights into state tourney

May 9, 2019

ONA — All eyes but two will be on Cabell Midland’s Channing Varnum at the state tennis tournament.

Varnum, a senior, will be watching her young teammates try to bring a championship to the Knights.

Cabell Midland’s No. 1 girls player and a state tournament veteran, Varnum credited freshmen Rachel Elkins, Julianne LaFon and Hanley Riner for the Knights’ run to a Class AAA, Region IV title. Varnum said she is confident those youngsters can team with herself, fellow seniors Taylor Davis and Sydney Clem and sophomores Kylie Fisher, Abby McNeely, Alaine Rutherford and Brooke Vaughn to give Cabell Midland a chance at a state championship. Davis, Fisher and Riner won Region IV singles championships. Varnum and Rider, as well as Davis and Fisher, won regional double titles.

“We have some good freshmen, especially our No. 2 player Hanley Riner,” Varnum said. “She’s my doubles partner. I think everyone but

me is undefeated this season. I’ve been telling them what to expect and not to be nervous because that doesn’t help anything.”

At No. 1, Varnum plays every other squad’s No. 1. While she comes out on top most of the time, she struggled a bit in the Mountain State Athletic Conference and Region IV tournaments.

“I played those two tournaments not to lose and that didn’t work out very well,” said Varnum, a three-time all-state player and the 2018 MSAC girls player of the year. “I’m going to approach the state tournament differently and play to win. I’ll give all I have.”

Varnum, who is recovered from shoulder surgery two summers ago, said Lexie Smolder from Hurricane and Emma McKnight from Morgantown figure to be her main challengers for an individual title.

“I hope I have a good shot,” said Varnum, who lost in the semifinals last year. “My forehand and volleys have improved a lot this year.”

Varnum signed to play at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.