“That was boring”. Kind of an odd phrase to hear from many players when they walk off the tennis court after finishing a match, but exactly what the coaches heard a lot of last week after many of the matches. I think our boys program and some of the girls have gotten good enough overall that many of the players aren’t getting challenged by the schools we play. We may have to schedule some bigger schools next year, said Coach Smith. We went to the 67th annual Inland Empire tourney on Friday and Saturday in Spokane and got some good competition, but we don’t get that often enough.
The boys had two sweeps again this week. First of all, Davenport on Monday, followed by Freeman on Tuesday. The best match of the day against the Gorillas was on court one, #1 singles. Ben Johnstone faced Max Mielke. For Johnstone, this was truly a turning point in his career. “For over a year he has known that he needs to make less unforced errors and just hit the ball back and forth until the opportunity arises to hit a winner or the opponent makes a mistake, but he has been unable to do this consistently. Finally, against Mielke, who pushes the ball back a lot, Ben figured out how to be patient and still control the match. It was the highlight of my week to see the light come on in his head and then have the skill to make it happen. We have talked a lot this year about many of the players being the youngest in the family and having trouble stepping up and taking charge, but it finally happened for Ben, 7-5, 6-2,” Coach Denise Smith said. The road to State definitely just got a lot more realistic for him, believes Coach Smith. “With his big serve and better match plan the rest of the season should go a little more smoothly.” She added.
The rest of the matches were quick and efficiently won by the Cougars. Brady Dainty beat Jared Regan 6-3, 6-3. “Daint” got frustrated a few times but grouped it back up quickly and continued with his win. This is a big improvement over last year where sometimes he would lose a set before he realized it. He has shown much maturity this season and is also working hard to go to State. Jeff Petersen was totally bored in his match, but stayed extremely focused and never gave up even one game for the 6-0, 6-0 shutout. Jeff will also be a contender at Districts and Regionals. Tyler Monasmith and David Vilchiz played some younger players and won 6-0, 6-2. Their teamwork of serving and smashing at the net resulted in most of the points ending very quickly. Mason Miller and Collin Kirk Patterson also put the ball away quickly and got the fast 6-0, 6-3 victory.
Against Freeman the boys took care of business in the wind, winning 60 games and giving up 14. Johnstone used his techniques from the previous day and knocked off Travis Campbell 6-2, 6-3. This could have been a closer match, but Ben’s game was on and he frustrated Campbell. Dainty worked every point and won 6-1, 6-0. Petersen crushed again with a 6-1, 6-0 score. Monasmith and Vilchiz gave up a few points but ended most of them quickly with winners 6-2, 6-1. Patterson and Miller got the 6-2, 6-2 win but hit too many shots right back at their opponents giving them an easier chance to return the ball. Coach Smith summarized, “I have been so proud of the boys in the skill and attitude departments. We have a little ‘3’ on our team shirts that reminds us of the even keel emotional attitude that we need to have to win. Combined with lots of quality practice they are achieving great things. So far, they have won 19 of 20 league matches.”
In girl’s action, the team also got two wins. “Overall, this is much better than I expected the girls to do on the season said Coach Wulczynski. We knew we had two great doubles teams, but the young singles players have improved a lot this year and helped get more wins than I thought we would have.” Davenport has two great players, but after that they were a bit weak this year due to many players going out for track, which they haven’t had in previous years. Although Naomi Miller and Kayleigh Hansen lost to some seasoned players, Tenika Smith turned up her game and used consistent serves and little drop shots to get a solid 6-1, 6-0 victory. Becka Kenney and Bethany Kofmehl got a forfeit and Ryann Richmond and Kelley Riese stayed focused a little better than lately and won 6-1, 6-0. Against Freeman, the Cougs won 4-1. Miller worked hard for her win by carefully placing her shots and moving her opponent all around the court for a 6-2, 6-4 win. This was her second win of the season against Freeman, now defeating both of the top two singles players, since they had shifted positions since the last time we played them. This will help Miller when it comes time to seeding for play offs. Hansen lost to her opponent and couldn’t cover enough of the court. Smith also played a new opponent from the previous meeting and served well adjusting to the wind for a 6-1, 6-1 victory. Kenney and Kofmehl worked together like the great doubles team that they are and won 6-0, 6-2 with great angles on their cross court returns and a few alley burns. Richmond and Riese weren’t at the top of their game, but won 6-2, 6-2.
On Wednesday Chewelah hosted a girls JV match with Colville and Lakeside. Everyone got to play and the coaches even had a fun exhibition match at the end.
On Friday and Saturday Chewelah entered 14 players into the Inland Empire tourney. It was a successful time with everyone playing at least two matches and totaling a few more wins than losses. Petersen used lightning fast corner serves and deep passing balls to place 8th out of 44 entries in boys #2 singles. Best of all, the team gained some valuable experience before play-offs.
This week Chewelah travels to Riverside on Tuesday and Freeman on Thursday if the weather allows.
By Denise Smith
JHS Tennis Coach
In this photo: Jeff Petersen powers up playing singles to win another match last Tuesday helping the Varity Boys stay undefeated! Kim Johnstone photo