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Harvard-bound Katijene Stime looks to play in her fourth state tennis tournament for Mead this spring. (Dan Pelle)

Mead tennis player Katijene Stime has solid grip on life beyond the courts

The Stime family would prefer to maintain a low athletic profile.

Christi Stime expressed a certain reticence in focusing a story on a family member.

“We don’t want to be showcased,” Christi said of her unpretentious family.

But it’s a hard thing not to do.

After all, Victor and Christi Stime’s youngest daughter, Harvard-bound Katijene, is in her fourth varsity season with the Mead girls tennis team and has already made three state appearances.

Her older sister, Britta Stime – now competing at Gonzaga University – was half of a state champion doubles duo at Mead, then joined Katijene for fourth- and second-place state doubles finishes.

And more than a decade earlier their cousin, Bernice Tobeck, completed an outstanding four-year career at Riverside with an unbeaten State 2A title on the heels of a state soccer championship and two state basketball appearances.

Last year Katijene Stime was a state singles participant and singles semifinalist at the Inland Empire Tennis Tournament. She is among the favorites during the 66th annual tournament this weekend.

But athletic accomplishments pale in comparison to other achievements by this family, which believes living and being educated in this country is a blessing.

They are high academic achievers, gifted musicians and community servants.

“It’s not her parents,” Christi Stime said of the successes of her daughters. “It’s them choosing the right direction. It’s just happened the two girls have worked hard.”

Katijene Stime is an accomplished pianist, active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Mead and scored a near-perfect 35 (out of 36) on the ACT test.

“She is bright, multitalented, has a perfect 4.0 GPA yet works as hard as any student in our school in our most demanding college prep courses,” counselor and FCA coordinator Dave Vaughan wrote via email. “She is unassuming and humble, yet a fierce competitor. Honestly, there is nothing she could accomplish in the coming years that would surprise me.”

Katijene Stime said she will attend Harvard to major in biological chemistry or molecular biology with an eye to a career in medicine or engineering.

“I really enjoy math and science,” Katijene Stime said. “I applied to a lot of different schools around the country and feel honored to get into Harvard. My dad wouldn’t let me visit unless I got in. I got the letter, visited and will attend.”

Katijene took up tennis relatively late. Her mother was a star at Mercer Island and the University of Washington and played a year professionally, traveling the world. She would later meet and marry her husband, a Spokane dentist, who had also attended a seminary.

“I didn’t get interested until fifth or sixth grade and hadn’t played that much,” Katijene said. “I decided I wanted to practice a lot more and began playing tournaments.”

She called it a thinking person’s game, and she tries to figure out what an opponent is doing then devise ways to beat them.

“I would consider myself a back-court player and am never giving up,” Stime said.

Her coach, Lynn Coleman, marvels at Stime’s fitness and court sense.

“Being able to think on your feet is paramount to being a good player,” Coleman said. “She’s very consistent and when she sees an opening she sees it.”

That approach to tennis is her approach to the various other pursuits in her life. Her mother says she’s benefited from a variety of Mead teachers, is in her room studying until midnight every night and involved in various service projects.

Christi said tennis has taught valuable lessons to her daughters.

“It’s not the sport, but what the sport gives a person,” Christi said. “Everyone has discouragements (in life). Persistence will get you through everything. Tennis is such a mental game and they become stronger women for playing tennis.”