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Tennis notes: Ferris picks up star player out of the blue

Longtime Ferris girls tennis coach Mike McLauchlin thought he had a good idea what his varsity team would look like this spring.

He wouldn’t have school courts for his kids to practice on, sure enough, but he knew who he had back from a year ago.

And then it all changed.

“It was our first meeting before the start of turnouts and this girl and her brother just showed up,” McLauchlin said. “They had just moved to the area from New Jersey. I hadn’t heard a word about either one of them. The girl told me she’d been playing since she was about 10 years old and her brother said, yeah, she beats all the boys.”

The girl, Courtney Provan, turned out to be Ferris’ new No. 1 singles player. Her brother, Conrad, now is the No. 1 singles players for the boys.

But that’s not all.

“Our first turnout I got another freshman out for the first time, Kjersti Strandness, who had a brother and sister who played at Lewis and Clark, but the family had moved and she was going to play for us,” McLauchlin said. “She’s now our No. 2 singles player. My No. 1 from last year is now playing No. 3 and she doesn’t even bother to take off her sweats to play her matches. It changed everything.

“In 17 years I’ve never had anything like this happen. We used to talk about having a foreign-exchange student come in and be a team’s No. 1 player and I think we had that at one school a while back. But nothing like this.”

Courtney Provan has been something of a mystery everywhere but on the court.

The family didn’t belong to a tennis club and she insisted she hadn’t picked up a racquet for the five months prior to the start of spring practices.

“When I met her dad, he told me that she first picked up a racquet a couple months before her 10th birthday, and by the time she turned 10 she was the top girls player in her area,” McLauchlin said. “There’s some information on her on the United States Tennis Association website because she’s played some pretty high-level tennis.”

What hasn’t been a mystery has been what she can accomplish on the court.

“The first time I saw her play was a challenge match with Kjersti and I was really impressed,” he said. “We went down to play the tournament in Lewiston and, luck would have it, Courtney drew the defending champ in her first match and won easily and went on to win the whole tournament.”

Provan met defending league champ Micca Motzer of Mead in a nonleague match and won 6-0, 6-0, then turned around and won by the same score in a Greater Spokane League match.

Overall, she’s 9-0 against GSL competition, with a composite match score of 108-10.

Ferris has lost just one match in league play, falling to league-leading Central Valley.

“Kjersti’s sister was playing a tournament at Indian Wells and her whole family went to watch her and that turned out to be when we played Central Valley in a league match,” McLauchlin said. “We ended up being without our No. 2 and our No. 4 singles players and we lost that match – and I don’t mean that as an excuse. Central Valley is playing very well right now and that’s a good, young team.”

Before anyone gets all excited about seeing Provan play against the top girls singles players in the Inland Empire Tournament, she’s elected not to enter the singles tournament.

“I tried to talk her out of it, but she wants to play mixed doubles with Alex Siok in that tournament,” the coach said. “She said there would be other tournaments for her to win and that she’ll win state for us, but that she wanted to play this tournament with Alex because he won’t be able to play at districts. They’re not dating or anything, but they’re both good players and they wanted to play this tournament together. I tried telling her that being a four-time champion of something like that would be something pretty impressive, but that didn’t sway her.”