Tennis players test themselves at KingCo championships

May 20, 2014

By Neil Pierson

The 28 singles players and 28 doubles teams that converged on the Skyline High School tennis courts last week knew they’d have to be on top of their games.

At the Class 4A KingCo Conference girls tennis championships, only the two finalists in singles and doubles were guaranteed berths into the state tournament, while the third-place finisher had to win a crossover match with a Wesco Conference foe to get there.

As it turned out, the competition wasn’t the only thing that proved daunting over the course of the three-day event. Eighty-degree temperatures greeted the players in the afternoons, making fitness even more vital.

“I think the heat really makes us tired, but I think we played really well today still,” said Skyline junior Jasmine Ye, who was paired with sophomore Julia Lioubarski. “I think we were confident in our game, and that’s important.”

Ye and Lioubarski looked solid in their May 13 quarterfinal victory, getting out of the gates quickly and shutting down Roosevelt’s Julia Mirick and Izzy Mason.

There weren’t a lot of extended points during the 6-1, 6-2 victory, as the Spartans’ duo served well and kept Mirick and Mason pinned to the baseline, forcing mistakes.

“Normally, we both play singles, so that’s a lot of running,” Ye said, “and in doubles, we cover half the court, so I think it’s a little easier for us.”

Ye and Lioubarski played doubles for two early-season matches, then returned to singles for the bulk of the season to best help the team.

But the KingCo singles bracket was stacked with talent, Ye explained, so Spartans coach Bettina Gehle reunited the duo to give them a better chance of advancing to state.

They were one of the top-four seeds into the tourney, giving them a first-round bye. After dispatching Newport’s Kari Nasu and Sara Park (6-0, 6-1) and the Roosevelt duo, they lost in the semifinals to Inglemoor’s Jenae Chinn and Michaela Jendralova, the eventual champions.

They rebounded with a victory over Issaquah’s Kelsey Wilson and Halle Gordon.

Lioubarski, a right-hander, said she complements well with the left-handed Ye.

“It’s fun playing with Jasmine because she knows how to pump you up and motivate you, and she doesn’t get mad if you miss, so it’s an easy partnership,” Lioubarski said.

Lioubarski and Ye were the No. 3 seed from the tournament, and lost a winner-to-state crossover match May 16 against the Wesco Conference’s third seed.

Skyline’s other KingCo qualifiers were singles players Theresa Huang, Sherry Huang and Hilary Taylor; and the doubles teams of Rianna Eduljee and Shreenu Sivakumar, and Avery Sampson and Kourtney Kirton.

Eastlake qualified two singles and two doubles teams for the conference tourney.

Senior Katie Park, a previous state qualifier, reached the quarterfinals with victories over Redmond’s Lais Conceicao (6-1, 6-0) and Woodinville’s Caroline Miller (6-0, 6-0). Garfield’s Alexia Fite eliminated Park (6-4, 6-0).

Nicole Yen, a sophomore, moved into the second round thanks to an opponent’s injury default, but lost to Garfield’s Fiona Cerf (6-2, 6-1).

In the doubles bracket, sisters Nicole and Michelle Knutson dropped a 7-5, 6-0 decision to Roosevelt’s Mirick and Mason in the first round. Likewise, Kayla Lee and Ananya Heroor lost their opening match 6-4, 6-4 to Roosevelt’s Alex Turnure and Molly Evans.

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