When players step onto the courts Friday morning to begin the state’s four tennis tournaments, they all will have one thing in common: Each is just eight set victories away from winning a state championship.
Ah, if it were only that easy.
The truth is, at the big-school level, singles tennis is a west-side game.
Since tennis was added as a state-championship sport in 1960 for boys and 1971 for girls, the Greater Spokane League has boasted just one state boys singles champion – Jim de Roetth, who won back-to-back championships in 1974 and 1975. Further, the state title holder has come from east of the mountains just six times. In addition to de Roetth, Ron Zielinski of Wenatchee won in 1966, Jesse Walter from Eisenhower won back-to-back titles in 1993 and 1994, and fellow Cadet Bryce Cooper won in 2002.
The GSL can lay claim to a three-time girls champion in University’s Sharon Fletcher, who dominated the court from 1983 through 1985. Gonzaga Prep’s Mary Reilly won the title in 1988.
Like the boys, girls champions rarely come from this side of Snoqualmie Pass. Richland’s Amanda Taylor won in 2001 and 2003. Jane Thomas of Pasco won in 1982 and Sue Fager of Eastmont in 1972.
All streaks are made to be broken, of course.
This year the Eastern Regional girls champion, junior Katijene Stime of Mead, enters the State 4A tournament in Kennewick after reaching the state finals in doubles a year ago. Central Valley sophomore Leslie Ho, the No. 4 seed from the Eastern Region, is a state tournament veteran.
Also in the field, however, is defending state champion Meghan Cassens of Decatur.
Mead’s Ethan Vaughn enters as the No. 2 seed from the Eastern Region after losing in the final to Hudson Barnhart of Wenatchee. The overwhelming tournament favorite, however, is three-time defending state champion Max Manthou of Kentwood, who would likely await Vaughn in the quarterfinals if the Panthers senior gets past opening-round opponent Scott McConnell.
Gonzaga Prep’s Alex Marcinkowski, too, has a veteran state placer awaiting him in a potential quarterfinal matchup.
Eastern Washington teams fare better in doubles, and the defending state girls champions, Ali Welch and Demie Warner, are from Kamiakin. However, the two were denied the regional title by Presley Peck and Tianna Cummings of Walla Walla.
Mead’s Chelsea Motzer and Lani Sherman open the tournament against Mackenzie Qualls and Caroline Min of Thomas Jefferson.
Ferris’ Tom Geranios and Marshal McNally open the boys tournament against Jack Wang and Trevor Jones of Mountain View.
In the Class 3A tournament in Vancouver, North Central’s Karin Chymcakova is a pretournament favorite after storming through both the district and regional tournaments without losing so much as a single set. The Slovakian exchange student opens against Bre Casias of Bremerton.
Mt. Spokane’s Justin McCann, the No. 2 seed coming out of the regional tourney, opens against Alex Wallace of Union.
East Valley doubles team Alyssa Dorr and Bryce Combs open against Christina Le and Megan Carter of Union.
Clarkston’s Dustin McConnell and Elise Rooney, who each finished third a year ago, both return in 2A. Alejandro Canseco of Deer Park enters the tournament as the regional champion and No. 1 seed. Clarkston’s Drew Adams, opens against Josiah Jackson of Ellensburg. Kaley Fox of Colville and K.C. McConnell of Clarkston also are in the tourney.
Derek Young and Nick Van Cleave of Clarkston are the top boys doubles seeds. Teammates Jace Kessler and Shawn Callahan are No. 2 and Pullman’s Sam Scad and Nishant Dwivedi third.
West Valley’s Ann Phan and Dru Sanchez won the district doubles tournament. Katie Servatious and Katie Van Cleave of Clarkston were No. 2 and teammates Roni Hewett and Kellie McCann-Smith third.
Nik Vishwanath and Sully Blake, both from St. George’s, along with Jarod Gunning of Davenport and Jace Hochwalt of Chewelah all are boys singles entrants in the Class 1A/2B/1B tournament in Yakima.
Jenna Lee is the lone Freeman entrant in girls singles. The Scotties had both finalists a year ago. Sowmya Mangipudi of St. George’s and Miranda Mielke of Davenport also are entered.
Matt Alexianu and Austin Henderson of St. George’s and Cody Southwick and James Grant of Lakeside are boys doubles entries. Katie Bauer and Blair Riddle of Freeman are in girls doubles.