Archive for the ‘Boys Tennis’ Category

After two years of running with South Whidbey, Danny Conlisk will help Coupeville relaunch its own in-school cross country program this fall. (Dawnelle Conlisk photo)

Paper work first.

If you’re planning on playing a sport or participating in an activity this fall for Coupeville High School or Middle School, you need to visit the high school office Tuesday, Aug. 14 between noon-6 PM and get registered.

This is the time to pay fees and fill out paperwork, NOT get physicals. But, if you don’t have a current one of those, get scramblin’.

CHS offers volleyball, football, boys tennis, girls soccer, cheer and cross country in the fall. The harrier program is returning to the school after a two-decade absence.

The middle school is also relaunching cross country, in addition to offering volleyball and football.

For more info, contact Eileen Stone at estone@coupeville.k12.wa.us or Lisa Yoder at lyoder@coupeville.k12.wa.us.

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John McClarin and doubles partner Joseph Wedekind worked hard over four years to become a powerful duo. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Few shots got past Sebastian Davis during his days on the court.

Grab a racket and get ready to rumble.

Part 2 of our 5-part series focusing on Coupeville coaches giving their side of the argument on the best players to wear the red and black, arrives almost as quickly as one of Aaron Curtin’s serves.

This time out, CHS tennis coach Ken Stange pops by to give the lowdown on the players he would want on his roster for a winner-take-all showdown.

With 13 years at the helm of the Wolf boys and girls net programs (26 seasons total), he’s seen more than his share of players.

But let’s have him tell us about it:

Here is my All-CHS Boys’ Tennis Team (2005-present):

#1 Singles — Aaron Curtin (Class of 2015)

Aaron was the youngest of the Curtin family. His brothers played for me, too.

Long, fast, strong, and intelligent, Aaron is far and away the best male singles player I’ve ever had the chance to coach at CHS.

In his senior year, he took 8th place at the state singles tourney. As a junior, he made it to state in doubles.

He’s the only player I’ve coached to go to state twice.

He was a quiet leader and garnered a great deal of respect from his teammates.

There haven’t been too many Wolf players that could push me around on the singles court; Aaron is one of them.

One of the things that separated Aaron from the competition was his ability to raise his game in the most crucial moments. He was never afraid of taking the risk to hit a big shot when the score was working against him.

With his quiet leadership, he inspired other great players like Joseph Wedekind, John McClarin, Joey Lippo, and William Nelson.

He came from a family of tennis players and he added a great deal to the CHS tennis family.

One of my greatest tennis memories of Aaron was when he played his qualifying match to go to state in singles.

He had already beaten his opponent from Vashon, but a rules technicality forced him to play the match again. He was not happy about having to prove it, but he went out and did just that.

It took almost three hours to win that match, but he did it.

#2 Singles — Ben Hayes (’11)

Six-feet-five of pure athleticism and love for sport. That is how I define Ben as a tennis player.

He was graceful on the soccer pitch and basketball court, but in tennis, he flat-out dominated his opponents.

He was the first CHS tennis player to take a set of singles from me.

Before Ben, I had never coached a player as talented as him. He just made it look so easy, and he frustrated his opponents to no end.

He had a huge serve, unbelievable speed, and a ton of want. That made for a deadly combination.

Back then, our district tennis tourney was the toughest in the state, but he still managed to come one match shy of qualifying for state. In most other years, he would have made it to Yakima.

I bet that even if he hasn’t picked up a racket since he graduated from high school, he would still beat the pants off of most players.

#3 Singles — (tie) — Connor Tasoff (’10) and Sebastian Davis (’16)

It was difficult to pick one player as my #3 singles guy.

Connor and Sebo had similar CHS tennis careers. Both spent time playing singles and doubles, both won league singles titles, and both fell short of making it to state.

Both were also leaders of the team, both athletically and academically.

Sebastian, despite almost always having a lead role in the fall theater production, always found a way to be the star on both the court and the stage.

What’s more, his did it while maintaining a ridiculously high academic standard.

He didn’t have the big serve and forehand that most singles players desired, but he did have amazing drive and passion for the game.

He kept focus, ran every ball down, and played every shot like it was the shot that could win the match. That kind of attitude inspired others to reach similar heights.

I credit Connor for legitimizing the boys’ tennis team during my tenure as coach.

He convinced his parents to put up a wall over their garage door. He played in the off-season. He took lessons. He went to camps. He watched tennis on television. He attended tournaments.

He and I were even lucky enough to watch the US Davis Cup Team win the title over Russia, when it was held in Portland several years ago.

He still strings our players’ rackets.

Connor cared. He cared about his school, his team, and his game.

He worked harder than any other boy that has ever played for me. No lie. He worked that hard.

He and I used to joke around about being mild to moderately athletic and how people like us had to work harder than the natural athletes.

I don’t say this to belittle him.

He just wasn’t the athlete that Jordan Lamb was. He had to work harder. And he did.

One of my favorite memories of Connor came just after he finished his final season at CHS. Having been eliminated from the district singles tourney, Connor was understandably upset.

The manager of the Nordstrom Tennis Center at the UW had taken notice of Connor’s passion and love for the game.

She asked him about his plans for the following year and when he told her he’d be attending the UW, she offered him a job on the spot. He ended up working there and stringing rackets for the UW tennis team.

#1 Doubles — Ben Etzell (’14)/Aaron Curtin (’15)

Aaron is the only boy to be on both the singles and doubles lists.

I’ll speak a little about Aaron, seeing that I shared some thoughts about him in the singles portion of this list.

In his doubles duo, Aaron represented experience and quiet leadership. He’d played a bunch of doubles during his ninth grade year, and I charged him with bringing Ben (who had only turned out as a junior) up to speed.

Aaron originally didn’t want to play doubles, instead hoping to make a run in singles.

I’m glad I was able to convince him to partner up with Ben. They made a fabulous duo, going all the way to state and winning a match before being eliminated.

Ben was the kid I tried and tried to convince to play tennis. Luckily, as a junior, he finally gave in.

Working with Ben was easy. He loved the work, he loved the teammates, and he loved the game.

What’s more, he was one of the most talented athletes I’ve ever worked with.

To begin tennis as a junior and qualify for state as a senior is, for most people, a fantasy at best. Ben made it a reality.

I remember his very first day of practice. I was trying to get him to slow down his swing, to no avail.

By the end of the day, he was hitting 90 MPH serves.

He played tennis with the unbridled joy of a little league baseball player and the heart of a mercenary.

Following his collegiate baseball career has been a pleasure.

I hope that as an educator, he decides to coach tennis as well as baseball. His energy would benefit tons of young athletes.

#2 Doubles — Joey Lippo (’18)/William Nelson (’18)

Joey and Will played doubles together for all four of their years at CHS.

In their senior season, they came up one point shy of making it to the state tourney. Had they won that point, they would be sharing the #1 spot with Aaron and Ben.

That said, they are one of the best doubles teams I’ve ever coached. Silky smooth William and big banging Joey.

Their evolution was a beautiful thing to watch. From skinny ninth graders to fully grown seniors, each year showed massive growth in their skills.

They were also, in the words of Stuart Scott, “cooler than the other side of the pillow.”

They were pretty unflappable and rarely showed emotion on the court.

They played so many big matches through the years, and they often drew a crowd when they played, which says a lot because tennis usually does not draw a crowd.

Much like Ben and Aaron, tennis was their alternate sport, with William excelling in soccer and Joey finding success in baseball.

Watching them blend their main sport skills into tennis was interesting.

William had instant top tennis footwork, while Joey could hit the fuzz off the ball from day one. It didn’t take long for them to round into a top-flight doubles team.

#3 Doubles — (tie) — John McClarin (’17)/ Joseph Wedekind (’17) and Jordan Lamb (’10)/Nathan Lamb (’13)

Both duos won league championships, with Joseph and John playing together for three years and the Lamb brothers playing together during Jordan’s senior and Nathan’s freshman year.

All four of them were influential leaders of their teams.

Over the course of 13 years, there have been quite a few sets of siblings that have played tennis.

For me, it was always all the more enjoyable to have siblings, either on the team at the same time or stretching out over several years.

Lamb, Knoll, Curtin, Etzell, Nelson, Weaver, Monroe/Wright, Aparicio, Renninger, Akins, Ginnings, and a few more that don’t come to mind at this moment, are the families that have served CHS tennis well.

The Lambs were a dynamic duo.

Jordan, with his instructional video quality swing and his high level of consistency and Nathan, the aggressive and free-swinging gunslinger of a tennis player, made for some exciting tennis.

They didn’t possess the 12+ combined feet of length that most of my other teams flaunted, but they played big nonetheless.

There was a yin/yang quality about their playing styles.

Jordan has previous success with classmate Connor Tasoff and Nathan went on to play big at #1 singles.

I’m hoping for the Lamb kids to one day bring their children home to CHS so the tennis team can have some more of that Lamb athleticism.

Joseph and John. Where do I start?

They began as a couple of clumsy freshmen. However, they worked very diligently during the season. More importantly, they worked even harder during the off-season, and not just during the summer.

They played in the cold, wind, and even the rain. They played almost every day.

In an effort to gain court time during the spring, they signed up as managers for the girls’ team. They ended up becoming assistant coaches, so to speak.

From the bottom of the ladder as freshmen to the top of the ladder and league doubles champs as seniors is an impressive arc.

They were universally respected by every CHS player, male and female.

They made my life a great deal easier by being trustworthy leaders, and their imprint will last for a couple of more years, even though they have graduated.

#4 Doubles — Brian Miller (’08)/Jake Weaver (’07)

Brian and Jake were a combined 12′ 10″ tall. Lobbing over them was a no-go.

They were my first legitimate boys’ doubles team. They led by setting a quality example, and they were ferocious on the court.

Unfortunately for them, Friday Harbor had a state doubles team during that time, and that kept Brian and Jake from picking up some hardware.

Brian was one of the fastest 6′ 6″ kids I’d ever seen and he had the power to match his frame.

Jake was long and lean, and he could run fast all day long. He got to balls that I couldn’t dream of chasing down.

Brian and Jake were the pair that originally set the bar for the guys’ team after I took over as coach. The younger kids saw the bar and surpassed it.


Return Thursday for part 3 of our five-part series, as Stange reveals his all-time girls tennis lineup.

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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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