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U-Hi returns to state tennis after long absence

For nine years under coach Julene Osborn, University High girls tennis has been a top-three Greater Spokane League program. Osborn has won several league coach of the year awards.

But until last weekend, Osborn had never taken a player to state. The doubles team of Lauren Archibald and Jessi Barth remedied that.

The pair finished third during regional doubles to qualify this weekend to the tournament in Kennewick as the GSL’s only State 3A participants

It has been more than 10 years since a U-Hi tennis player has made the trip, activities coordinator Ken VanSickle said, although he doesn’t know the exact number.

“It’s really exciting,” Osborn said. “I’m excited to see how they compare once they are there. They work really well together as a team, communicate well and encourage each other which I think is the key.”

One of the unique things about them is that they are not really club players, but have worked on their own with family and friends to attain success, Osborn said.

“I believe they could have made it to state in 3A and 4A,” Osborn said.

Matches begin Friday at the Tri-City Court Club and Kamiakin High School at 8:30 a.m.

Prep means business

Gonzaga Prep singles player Alex Marcinkowski will draw on last year’s state appearance. Teammates Riley Poppy and Alex Hattamer teamed to win last weekend’s regional 4A doubles title to join him at state.

They are among the GSL 4A contingent that will participate beginning at 8 a.m. Friday in the Vancouver Tennis Center.

“The boys have been working hard to assure that they represent our school well,” coach Christian Birrer said. “We are not going over there just to make an appearance.”

Mead’s Katijene Stime defeated Central Valley’s Leslie Ho for the regional girls single title. Both advances to state. The Mead doubles team of Elise Ellingsen and Chelsea Motser earned the third girls doubles state berth.

“Marcinkowski has a difficult draw in singles,” said Birrer, citing several ranked Pacific Northwest players and last year’s state runner-up, Kent Andreasen from Skyview. “(Poppy and Hattamer’s) half of the bracket is wide open at state. They have been playing very well and were able to handle the pressure of a three-set marathon that saw them fight off seven match points in the regional semifinal.”

He said the trio is thrilled and feels quite fortunate to have the state opportunity.

GNL earns half

Great Northern League tennis players earned nine of 18 berths to the State 2A tournament, which begins at 8 a.m. Friday in Seattle’s Nordstrom Tennis Center. Among them are boys singles champion Drew Adams and girls singles runner-up K.C. McConnell from Clarkston.

1A/2B/1B tourney

Four girls singles and doubles players each and three each in boys singles and doubles represent seven schools in the combined tournament Friday beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Yakima Tennis Club.

Davenport has qualifiers in district singles champions Miranda Mielke and Josh Wright and doubles champs Nick Halverson and Matt Rosman. Lakeside also has three state qualifiers, led by girls doubles champions Susie Aguirre and Nicky March.