Maya Jansen is Alabama-bound.
The Freeman High School senior, the top girls tennis player in the Class of 2013 in the Pacific Northwest, signed a national letter of intent to play her collegiate tennis at the University of Alabama – a last-minute winner over the University of Virginia.
“I verbally committed to play at Virginia last year,” Jansen explained. “But a couple weeks before the November signing period, I heard some things about the program that made me want to take a second look.”
Considered a blue-chip recruit, Jansen did not have a shortage of potential suitors. Both Arizona and Arizona State offered scholarships. So did Ohio State, Purdue and Wake Forest. So did Washington State.
“Lisa Hart, the coach in Pullman, saw Maya play very early in her career and offered her a scholarship,” said her father, Spokane Racquet Club professional Andy Jansen. “Maya decided to take a few recruiting trips just to see what was out there. I think once she got to Tuscaloosa, she felt it was the right fit for her. The weather was great when she was there in February and they had just opened up their brand-new indoor tennis facility.
“They’re a Top 20 program year in and year out – this year they’re ranked ninth in the country and were ranked as high as seventh.”
Jansen hasn’t been a year-round tennis player through high school. She has played on the junior tennis circuit and in tournaments around the country. But she annually took three months off every fall to play volleyball for her mother, Freeman coach Eva Windlin-Jansen.
“I love playing volleyball; I love my teammates,” Jansen said. “But I’m really looking forward to concentrating on my tennis full time. Taking three months off made it feel like I was starting over. I was always trying to get that feeling back I had when I stopped to play volleyball.”
Jansen will enroll for summer classes beginning in July and will begin working with head coach Jenny Mainz.
Older sister Lea plays at at West Virginia.
Inland Empire tournament
Seeding for the 67th Inland Empire high school tournament – which began Friday and concludes today – has a decidedly Columbia Basin Big Nine bent to it, but that’s as much a result of who isn’t entered than who is.
Hanford senior Luke Thompson is the No.1-seeded boys singles player.
“Gonzaga Prep is in the tournament, but their No. 1 singles player, Alex Marcinkowski, is not playing,” said Mead boys coach Bill Wagstaff, who is the tournament director. “Tom Geranios, the No. 1 singles player from Ferris, isn’t playing here this weekend, either. Ferris is playing in an invitational tournament in Boise. Last year’s runner-up, Aaron Farmer from West Valley-Yakima, isn’t here, either.”
Seeding a high school tennis tournament is part art form, part arcane exercise.
“There’s a certain amount of crystal-ball gazing involved,” Wagstaff said with a laugh. “When you have so many teams entered, most of them from different leagues where they don’t play each other, it’s tricky. Some of it is checking USTA data that’s available. A lot of it, frankly, comes from just talking to different coaches and listening to what they have to tell us.”
As it turned out, the No. 1 boys singles seedings held up just fine. Thompson won his three matches in straight sets. No. 2 seed Luke Ness of Lake City, No. 3 Drew Adams of Clarkston and No. 4 Travis Zuroske of Richland all did the same. Thompson faces Zuroske, half of last year’s winning No. 1 doubles team, in one semifinal this morning; Ness and Adams meet in the other.
Girls No. 1 singles seed Siera Troxel of Hanford will face unseeded Paige Toop of Davis. No. 3 seed Chelsea Motzer of Mead faces No. 2 seed Tasha Talbot of Richland in the other semifinal.
No. 4 seed Haley Strandness was upset by Gonzaga Prep’s Mary Carpenter in the second round. The tournament’s championship matches begin at 8:30 this morning at Mead.