Archive for the ‘Boys Tennis’ Category

Coupeville boys tennis players like Mason Grove will face a substantial challenge next season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

If you want to be the best, you have to play the best.

People say that all the time, and it’s something the Coupeville High School boys tennis team will get to test out this fall.

With CHS jumping ship from the 1A Olympic League and joining the new 1A North Sound Conference starting with the 2018-2019 school year, everyone’s schedules will change up.

Klahowya, Port Townsend and Chimacum will be gone, at least as league rivals.

Meanwhile, the Wolves will reunite with former Cascade Conference foes South Whidbey, Sultan, Granite Falls and King’s, plus Cedar Park Christian (Bothell), which replaced Coupeville when it departed that 1A/2A league.

But there will be one CHS program facing a different set of foes, and that’s boys tennis.

While King’s doesn’t play softball and Sultan and CPC don’t play girls tennis, that still leaves those sports with five and four league teams, respectively.

Every other sport the Wolves compete in, including cross country, which returns to CHS after two decades, has a full six-team set-up.

And then there’s boys tennis, where South Whidbey is the only one of Coupeville’s five new foes to field a team.

Instead of just a two-team mini-league, the Wolf male netters will step outside the North Sound Conference, joining the Falcons in playing as interlopers in the ultra-ritzy Emerald City League.

Otherwise known as the toughest tennis conference in the state.


The league is comprised of small, ultra-ritzy private academies, where most of their tennis players are exclusive to the sport and benefit from ready access to private coaches and indoor courts.

Of the ECL schools, University Prep, Seattle Academy, Overlake, Bush and Bear Creek play boys tennis, while South Whidbey and 2A Archbishop Thomas Murphy have joined them on the courts in recent years.

With the Cascade Conference shattering apart, its 1A members have formed the North Sound Conference, while the WIAA forced Wesco to accept ATM (after its athletic directors voted 21-0 to deny such a move).

While the Wildcats will likely take the courts against 3A schools like Oak Harbor from now on, tennis has never been a priority for ATM, and the school is an also-ran in the sport.

The five private schools awaiting Coupeville in the Emerald City League are anything but also-rans, however.

With the exception of Charles Wright Academy out of the Nisqually League, the ECL features all of the dominant 1A tennis programs in the region.

As in, the last five boys state singles champs (four from U Prep, one from Bear Creek) have come from ECL schools.

Seattle Academy won the boys double title in 2016, beating a U Prep duo, and had the state runner-up in singles in 2015, while U Prep is the defending team state champs.

In four of the past five seasons, at least two ECL teams have finished in the top five in the team standings at the state tourney, with U Prep being in that exclusive group every season.

Of the five ECL schools, only The Bush School has failed to make a top five team appearance between 2013-2017.

With two doubles teams and a singles player in this weekend’s state tourney draw, U Prep, which went 11-0 in ECL play, is a strong bet to repeat as state champs, though you can never count out Charles Wright.

Basically, this is a long way of getting around to acknowledging the Coupeville boys tennis program faces an uphill battle.

While South Whidbey has always had a stellar tennis program, at least by rural public school standards, the Falcons have made just a few inroads in their time in the ECL.

SWHS went 4-4 in league play last fall, and two years ago got then-freshman Kody Newman, now a football player, to the state tourney.

While he has never shied away from a challenge in 13 years at the helm of both Coupeville tennis teams, Wolf coach Ken Stange admits his two squads will have different paths ahead of them.

“The boys’ tennis team will face tougher competition than any other CHS team,” he said. “Multiple perennial state powerhouses will be our norm.”

Cue the “Rocky” theme music.

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   Pedro Gamarra was one of 14 Wolf tennis players to letter this season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They played together from the start of their careers to the end.

So, it’s only fitting Coupeville High School seniors Joey Lippo and William Nelson capped their prep tennis run by sharing team MVP honors.

The doubles duo also earned Captain status Monday, along with fellow senior Nick Etzell, as the Wolves became the final fall squad to hold a postseason shindig.

Other award winners honored by longtime coach Ken Stange included Thane Peterson (Most Improved) and Harris Sinclair (Most Inspirational).

Letter winners:

Jakobi Baumann
Jaschon Baumann
Drake Borden
Nick Etzell
Pedro Gamarra
Zach Ginnings
Mason Grove
Tiger Johnson
Joey Lippo
Nile Lockwood
William Nelson
Thane Peterson
Koby Schreiber
Harris Sinclair

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   Maggie Crimmins kicks off our parade of CHS fall sports portraits. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Ben Smith

Savannah Smith

Aurora Cernick

Tiger Johnson

Megan Thorn

Dewitt Cole

Heidi Meyers

Before every new high school sports season begins, photo day is a time-honored ritual.

John Fisken hoists his camera and madly clicks away, getting a pic of every girl and boy who will be in uniform for the Wolves — or at least every one who remembers to show up for photo day.

Then he’s nice enough to send them my way.

As the season progresses, I sprinkle those portraits across the top of numerous stories.

But, without fail, especially during a busy season like fall, with volleyball, tennis, soccer, cheer and football, there will be some which haven’t seen the light of day.

So, today, I offer up a mixture of portraits, which, for whatever reason, haven’t had their moment in the spotlight until now.

Sort of spring cleaning, just in late fall.

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   Wolf netters (l to r) William Nelson, Pedro Gamarra and Joey Lippo hang out at the district tourney. (Connie Lippo photo)

For the second straight year, Coupeville High School netters Joey Lippo and William Nelson came within one win of advancing to the state tournament.

But, despite ending the West Central District III boys tennis tourney Thursday with a victory over league rivals, the Wolf duo have reached the end of a remarkable four-year run together.


Having finished third at districts, Lippo and Nelson are the alternates to state, which means they could still get the call if illness, injury or, say, a kidnapping, were to go down and make life miserable for either of the top two duos.

There’s plenty of time for unforeseen circumstances to develop, as boys tennis is played by some schools in the fall and some in the spring.

That means state isn’t held until late May, when Lippo will likely be playing baseball for CHS and Nelson running the soccer pitch for the Wolves.

If that call doesn’t come, though, the duo can look back on a stellar career, where, except for two matches, they played together as an exclusive doubles team for all four seasons.

Coming off a title at the Olympic League tournament, Lippo and Nelson opened districts with a win Wednesday, then lost a titanic three-set battle to a Vashon team Thursday morning.

Coupeville’s best rebounded to drill a duo from Klahowya, which moved them forward into a rematch with the Vashon netters in the second/third place match.


District tourney rules are clear — “if a rematch occurs during the tournament this match will not occur and the winner from the first match will advance to the next round.”

While it might seem unfair, Coupeville was dinged by the exact opposite rule a couple of years back, when Aaron Curtin was denied a trip to state when he lost a rematch to a Vashon player he had already beaten.

So, basically, no matter which way the rule is written that year, the rich school will ALWAYS come out on top in the hoity-toity world of high school tennis.

End of story.

While Lippo and Nelson finished districts with a 2-1 record, Coupeville’s other four competitors — singles aces Pedro Gamarra and Jakobi Baumann and doubles duo Nick Etzell and Mason Grove — went two and out.

Baumann, a junior, and Grove, a sophomore, are the only Wolves who could return next season.

Etzell, Lippo and Nelson are seniors, while Gamarra is a foreign exchange student.

Complete Thursday results:


Pedro Gamarra:

Lost to Zain Mian (Charles Wright) 6-3, 6-0
Lost to Amadeo Gallina (Vashon) 6-1, 6-3

Jakobi Baumann:

Lost to Jacob Kraft (Klahowya) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3


William Nelson/Joey Lippo:

Lost to Wyatt Kepler and JJ Bogaard (Vashon) 6-4, 4-6, 7-5
Beat Morgan Seidel/William Stewart (Klahowya) 7-5(8-6), 6-1

Mason Grove/Nick Etzell:

Lost to Mason Rice/Hank Rogers (Vashon) 7-6, 6-4

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   Wolf netters Joey Lippo (left) and William Nelson, chasing a trip to state, won their opening match at districts Wednesday. (Connie Lippo photo)

There was a little something for everyone.

A broken string, a quick racket swap, rain (what a surprise), even some actual tennis being played.

After enduring the trip to Tacoma Wednesday, the Coupeville High School netters opened districts with a win, two losses and a match suspended due to moisture.

The best news came from senior doubles duo William Nelson and Joey Lippo, who overcame a disabled racket to wax Mason Rice and Hank Rogers of Vashon Island 6-4, 6-3.

Nelson borrowed teammate Nick Etzell’s stick to finish the match (his racket has since been restrung), but he might not have needed it, as Lippo promptly went on a run of service aces.

With the win, the duo advance to the semifinals Thursday, chasing their first berth at the state tourney next spring.

The top two finishers at districts, which pits the four best from the Olympic League against the four best of the Nisqually League, earn tickets to the big dance.

It’ll be a harder climb for Coupeville’s other players through the modified double elimination bracket, though.

Jakobi Baumann fell 6-0, 6-0 to Raghav Agrawal of Charles Wright Academy, while Etzell and Mason Grove were tipped 6-2, 6-1 by Wyatt Kepler and JJ Bogaard of Vashon.

While the doubles matches were played indoors, the singles matches were started outside, and rain threw that into havoc.

Coupeville’s other singles ace, Pedro Gamarra, was at 2-2 in the first set of his match with Zain Mian of CWA when liquid sunshine brought an early end to their tussle.

The tourney returns to action at 8 AM Thursday.

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