The District tennis tournament was all it could be for the Chewelah Cougars last Friday and Saturday at Mead High School, with the Cougs beating out Lakeside, Riverside, Medical Lake and Freeman for the most points earned and another title as District Champs. The Cougs entered 12 players into the tourney and will be advancing 10 to the Regional tournament at West Valley on Friday May 17 starting at 9 a.m. “This is by far the most players to ever represent Chewelah at a regional tourney,” stated Coach Smith. “It is a definite statement as to how strong our program is this year. The 80 degree weather didn’t affect us mentally, but was draining physically. In both ways we showed our toughness. I couldn’t be any prouder of these kids”
In girl’s action, Bethany Kofmehl and Becka Kenney were seeded #1 in doubles and rolled through the bracket with authority as MVP players should. In the first round they held the #2 team from Lakeside scoreless, 6-0, 6-0, serving aces and putting shots away at the net left and right. The second match was against a young and improving Medical Lake team but Kofmehl and Kenney asserted themselves with a 6-3, 6-1 victory. The final match for the championship was tougher but they won the first set 6-4, before Talbott and Gady of Freeman jumped out with the 3-0 lead in the second set. Chewelah struggled with consistency but corrected their problem and put away the next six games with aggressive net play, which is their signature weapon, to win the title of Districts Champs.
The duo of Ryann Richmond and Tenika Smith, both All-Conference players, was the other doubles entry. They had played singles all season and consequently had to play a loser out pig tail game to even get into the tourney. With determination and nerves they beat the Riverside team 6-1, 6-0 making a few too many errors but still playing much better than their opponents. They then faced the #2 seed of Talbott and Gady from Freeman who had much more doubles experience and used it to their advantage to place shots away from the Chewelah pair giving Richmond and Smith their first loss and sending them to the loser’s bracket with two must-win matches to stay alive. Richmond and Smith focused on serves and net play to win the next two matches against Coit and Hord of Lakeside 6-2, 6-2 and Lewan and Houger of Medical Lake 6-3, 6-0. This placed them in the match against Ryann and Carlson of Medical Lake for 3rd or 4th to Regionals. The pair used consistent cross court returns and better net play to win 6-3, 6-3 and be seeded 3rd into Regionals.
In girl’s singles, Naomi Miller and Tia Justice both had a challenge ahead of them because they had to play pig tail matches to get into the regular 8 place tourney due to not having season records at #1 or #2 singles.
Miller showed consistency and determination in her first match against a hard hitting, inconsistent McCann from Lakeside 6-0, 6-4. Next came a tough match against Spray from Riverside with the scores not quite justifying how well Miller played, 0-6, 1-6, moving Miller to the loser’s bracket. Her third match was put off until Saturday due to darkness. Against Lee of Freeman she just couldn’t find the right mix of shots and lost a close 5-7, 3-6, which wasn’t what she was hoping for, but there are high hopes for her senior year.
Tia Justice was the other singles player and fought through terrible bouts with asthma for four of the longest matches of the tournament. She poured her heart and lungs into every match and fought with every breath. Her first match lasted two hours against Fitzgerald from Riverside in over 80 degree weather. Justice showed how good of a singles player she is becoming with tough ground strokes and long rallies to win 6-3, 7-5. She then advanced to play the #1 seed, Olson from Freeman and continued to have severe asthma problems and lost but put everything she had into the match and came off barely able to breathe. In her third match she played into the darkness against Fisher of Lakeside and outlasted her in lots of long rallies and well placed shots near the lines to win 6-2 and finished up the next morning with a 7-5 win. Her final match against Larkin of M.L. was not one for the faint of heart. It took all she had to fight her difficult breathing and tough opponent in another long, hot match in which Justice came up just a little short, shaking and exhausted, but the best effort she could have given.
In boy’s action, doubles MVP’s, Mason Miller and Collin Kirk-Patterson were well prepared for the tourney after a long week of practice. They had to wait two and a half hours for their first match against Medical Lake #2 doubles. It was an easy warm up match with Miller and K.P winning 6-0, 6-3 and demonstrating ace and volley techniques. They then beat #4 seeded Freeman 6-3, 6-2 showing everyone they were prepared to play some tough tennis. After more long waiting and watching, Miller and K.P got the opportunity to play for District Champs. With some excruciating rallies and frustrating points they pulled out the nail biting 7-5, 7-5 win for District Champs thus showing Medical Lake why the Cougs are League Champs.
The other doubles team of Sam Cobb and Tommy Norman were seeded 6th into the tournament due to their teammates being seeded first and knowing they had to place in the top four to advance. They came prepared and mentally focused as they entered the tourney. As a second Varsity team they had to encounter Lakeside’s first team. They played knowing they had quit the challenge ahead, but never backed down. They won the first set 6-3 with great serving and alley shots. With a lot of hiccups and unforced errors they dropped the second set 4-6. Before the third set they mentally and physically rejuvenated themselves and pulled out the 6-3 win. In the second match they faced the tough #1 Medical Lake team and barely lost the first set 4-6, and were tied 2-2 when the match was called due to darkness. The next day they resumed and tried their best and gave M.L. a good challenge but lost 4-6. This placed them in a must win match against Schueler and Chaney from Lakeside. The pair handily won the first set 6-4 and were ahead 1-0 when Norman smashed an opponent in the face and caused a bloody nose. This resulted in a long medical delay where Cobb and Norman lost focus and intensity. Their anger got the best of them at the end of the set and they were warned about language and racquet throwing from the tournament director. Any further misbehavior would result is disqualification. In an effort to not repeat their mistakes, they brought their best behavior and some great teamwork to the court and put the match away 6-3. Their final match against the #3 seed, Shovelier and Abrams of Lakeside was another tough one. They won 6-4 in the first set but missed a lot of shots in the second fighting back in a few dangerous situations. They ended up in a 6-6 tie and kept the lead through out most of the tie breaker for a close 7-5 win to wrap up 3rd seed into the Regional tourney .
In singles, all conference player, Ben Johnstone was seeded #2 behind Jaime Aragon, a foreign exchange student at Riverside. Johnstone played well throughout his matches using the consistency he has honed over the season and great point strategies. His first win was an easy one against Franz of Freeman 6-0, 6-0 as he exhibited great sportsmanship and confidence after a long wait. His second match against the big server, Rustin of Lakeside went into the darkness of the night where each player had a tough time returning the fast paced serves and ground strokes from each other. However, Johnstone knew if he could return the serve he would win most of the points because of his consistency and came out the winner and advanced to the championship match on Saturday against Aragon. Johnstone took a good attitude into this match knowing his opponent was a better player and did his best to win every point he could. Eventually he was beaten and will represent Chewelah as the #2 seed at Regionals.
Braeton Dainty-Flanagan, also an All-Conference player, was seeded #4 in the tournament and proved himself better than that by achieving the #3 player by the end of the tourney. In his first match he didn’t have to try hard and seemed to be moping around, but beat Mitchell of Freeman 6-2, 6-1. In his second match he was all fire and determination to get a game from Aragon of Riverside. His intensity, hard ground strokes and big serve is what every coach likes to see. Even though he lost he brought his best game to the court. He then played Franz again and beat him easily 6-1, 6-0 with more intensity this time. His final match came after a long wait to face Rustin who was seeded one higher than Daint. Daint took advantage of the tired Rustin and served up some aces, moved back almost to the fence for serve returns and finished off Rustin in record time in the heat of the day, to earn the #3 seed into Regionals.
-Submitted by JHS Tennis
In This Photo: The Varsity Boys Tennis Team took the League Championship for the third consecutive year and in addition earned the District Championship! Sporting their League trophy are Coach Denise Smith, Ben Johnstone, Braeton Dainty-Flanagan, Mason Miller, Sam Cobb, Collin Kirk-Patterson, Tommy Norman and Luke Timm. They had a perfect season with no team losses! Great Job Guys! Kim Johnstone photo
The Varsity Girls Tennis Team took their first League Championship in many years sharing it with the Medical Lake Girls team, Shown are Coach Smith, Tia Justice, Naomi Miller, Bethany “Beef” Kohfmel, Becca Kenney, Tennika Smith, Ryann Richmond, Coach Wulczynski. Not pictured is Kayleigh Hansen. Great work ladies! Kim Johnstone photo