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Archive for the ‘Girls Tennis’ Category

Jacki Ginnings was the “queen of the three-hour match.” (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Jazmine Franklin teamed with McKenzie Bailey to form “Salt ‘n Pepa,” maybe the most underrated doubles team of the last 13 years.

Girls tennis is arguably the most-successful sport in Coupeville High School history.

A big part of that run of league titles and postseason glory has come during Ken Stange’s 13 years (and counting) at the helm of the program.

The Wolf net guru returns for part 3 of our five-part series on CHS coaches extolling the virtues of the best players they’ve seen.

Let’s head out to the court and listen to him reminisce.

While the boys’ team has had some success, winning some league titles and even sending some players to state, the boys’ team has always had to compete with football.

Football is the big daddy of male high school sports, and I think boys are more likely to grow up dreaming of Friday Night Lights than they are of Center Court at Wimbledon.

The girls, on the other hand, have made tennis one of the most successful athletic programs at CHS.

Even with the constant onslaught of state track stars and the rise of CHS’s wicked good fastpitch team, tennis has remained strong.

We used to routinely have 20+ players; I think we had 28 one year.

Although our numbers have dwindled (we had 16 players last year), we ended our four-year run in the 1A Olympic League with four league titles.

I’ve had some amazing players on the girls’ team.

Picking this list was only easier because I took the liberty of adding two more singles players than I did for the guys.

#1 Singles — Julia Sierra Castano (exchange student from Spain – 2010)

Julia turned 16 a few days before she competed in the state singles tourney, back in 2010.

When she showed up in the fall of 2009, I heard rumors of an exchange student who had game.

That fall, I saw her hitting with some of the boys while they were getting ready for practice one day. She looked consistent, but she wasn’t hitting the ball hard.

I was hoping to see a little more ability, considering she had told me about her club training that she had back home in Spain.

Once the spring began, she quietly established herself as the top singles player, narrowly edging out her closest competition.

I just kept thinking she had more than what she was showing. I was persistent in asking her about it, and she was usually sheepish about the subject.

Eventually, she confided that she didn’t want to showboat for her teammates. She wanted to be liked.

That was fine, but I told her that I really wanted her to beat the crap out of her opponents.

She did, winning every single regular season match. She won the league tourney. At the Seattle district tourney, she finally lost a match, but not before she qualified for state.

She went 1-2 in Yakima, competing well in a very strong field.

To this day, her forehand is one of the most ferocious shots I’ve ever seen.

We used to bash the ball back and forth, and many times, I watched her humiliate her opponent with her weapon.

It’s hard to believe she was just 15 for most of that season. She was smart, kind, well-liked, and a beast of a tennis player.

#2 Singles — (tie) — Amanda d’ Almeida (Class of 2013), Valen Trujillo (’17), and Emily Burchfield (’12)

Amanda is the only female to appear on this list twice. I guess if I were to make an all-CHS mixed doubles team, it’d be Aaron Curtin and Amanda.

Anyhow, Amanda, Valen and Emily had similar tennis career arcs.

All three put together impressive multi-year runs as singles players, and all fell just shy of state, but were playing in incredibly tough districts and would likely have qualified if they played anywhere else in the state.

Amanda, Valen, and Emily put up impressive four-year careers as CHS tennis players, racking up tons of wins

Amanda as a junior and senior was probably the most physically-fit athlete I’ve ever coached.

She looked like a professional athlete and even though she wasn’t imposing in size, she looked like the type of person who had been training for a long time.

Soccer was her main sport, but she had played tennis as a ninth grader and found huge success as a doubles player.

By her junior year, she’d hit the singles court and was making waves.

I remember not being able to hit balls that Amanda couldn’t run down and return to me. She was one of the best retrievers I ever coached.

What’s more, she constantly worked to improve all aspects of her game.

She took her doubles knowledge from earlier, and added the ground strokes that allowed her to hang with the big girls.

She ended her career as one of the most solid players during my time at CHS.

Valen had everything … but size. Haha.

I first met Valen when she was in 7th grade. She wasn’t in my class, but she introduced herself anyway because she was just that polite.

I had her in Yearbook class and multiple English classes. I got to know her and her family.

When she came out to play as a 9th grader, she had already played a bit, she was very athletic, and we both clicked in a perfect player/coach way. We just got each other.

Valen was relentless in her pursuit of good tennis. She kept at it.

She was probably 5′ 1″ but she still found a way to have a big serve. She ran every ball down and she never gave up on points. She did it all with unbridled enthusiasm, too.

After matches, I often said, “Win (or lose) a match and make a friend,” because she more often than not connected with her opponent.

She won gobs of matches, both as a doubles player in ninth grade, and as a singles player for her final three years.

She was also most likely to bake goods for her teammates and coach.

Emily was indomitable.

She was an aggressive soccer player and she translated that aggression to the tennis court nicely. She had pretty good game, too.

I was pumped for her senior season because I thought she had an outside shot at qualifying for state in singles.

About a week before the beginning of her senior year, a vehicle struck her while she was riding a bicycle in Portland.

She had broken her back, and things looked dire. It was originally thought that she may not be able to walk, yet she defied her doctors’ prognosis.

King-5 interviewed her and they came out to Coupeville.

When she finally got to return to school and I found out she intended to play tennis, despite all the new hardware she was sporting in her skeleton, I was amazed.

I tried to imagine the kind of discomfort and pain she was experiencing on a daily basis.

Then the season happened. We had to manage her playing because of the accident.

She had had a previous surgery on her ankle from a soccer injury. That injury was aggravated by the accident and her ankle would swell up to the size of a cantaloupe every time she played.

I remember watching her plant her foot and run during points, and seeing her pain-tightened face as she did it.

It was so impressive. She seemed to defy normal human tolerance for pain.

She won the league singles title that year and made it to within one match of qualifying for state. Had she not been injured, she would likely have qualified for state.

Seriously, they could make a movie about Emily.

# 3 Singles — (tie) — Allie Hanigan (’14) and Jacki Ginnings (’15)

Allie and Jacki each took their turn at #1 singles and they both were quite dominant, helping their teams secure titles.

Allie was long and graceful on the court, so much so that I sometimes accused her of not trying hard enough, but she always said she was giving it her all.

Eventually, I was watching her play a match from a different angle. I realized just how fast she was.

She looked slow because she made it look too easy. She anticipated and zoom, she was gone!

What’s more, she was tall, so she could reach just about everything inside the fence.

When Allie left, Jacki assumed the #1 spot.

Unlike Allie, Jacki did not make it look easy. Quite the opposite, actually.

She was the queen of the three-hour match.

Several times, she would be in the first wave of matches and would not finish until the final JV match had ended.

Luckily for us, she was usually on the top end of the drawn-out affair.

She was a grinder, never afraid to play the long point to outlast her opponent. She was tough as nails to boot, so if she lost a long point, she easily put it in her rear view mirror.

#1 Doubles — Payton Aparacio (’18)/Sage Renninger (’18)

Easily the best doubles team I ever coached.

They finished 4th in a loaded bracket at state last season, capping a stellar four-year career as the top CHS doubles duo.

When I think of who made it look easy, I think of Payton and Sage, and I can only think of them together, much the same as their classmates, Joey (Lippo) and Will (Nelson).

They were singular. They just made it look effortless.

They were smiling assassins, and they could giggle in the most tense moments.

As ninth graders, they said they wanted to play together.

I immediately saw state somewhere in their futures, so I committed to putting two of my best into one spot.

There were four pairs of incumbent players who planned on beating the young Sage and Payton, and pair by pair, those four duos found themselves somewhere else on the ladder.

That first year was difficult. They took their lumps, but picked up experience.

They picked up the wins as sophomores and juniors, and came close to making it to state.

Their senior year was a thing of magic. They lost a few key regular season matches to teams that went on to qualify for A or AA state.

With each of those losses came an increased focus in subsequent matches.

They also had a helper named Tezra who trained with them after practice. That work paid off with a 4th place finish at state.

Not many players get to finish their careers with a win. Sage and Payton did just that.

What made their final season even better was how they took control of the captains’ reins, leading their team to a fourth-straight league title. Their impact will be lasting.

I’ll also never forget how Payton ended the district semifinal match by hitting her opponent in the face with a wicked ground stroke.

#2 Doubles — (tie) — Amanda d’Almeida (’13)/Jessica Riddle (’13) and Hannah Merrell (’09)/Megan Monroe (’09)

Amanda and Jessica were doubles partners for their ninth and tenth grade years, before Jessica moved to Anacortes to finish her final two years of high school.

Although new to tennis as ninth graders, Amanda and Jessica were both ridiculously athletic. Both went on to play college soccer and volleyball, respectively.

They picked up the game very fast.

I tucked them away at the bottom varsity doubles spot for the entire season while they learned the game and grew more confident.

We had two doubles spots available in the league tourney that year, so I let them challenge their teammates for the second spot and they won.

At league, they beat their other teammates to win the title, before bowing out at district.

As sophomores, they stormed through the league, advancing to districts. They fell one match shy of state, but their performance was memorable.

Unfortunately, their time as partners ended, but it was a great run nonetheless.

When I took over the CHS tennis program, the entire varsity team had graduated.

Hannah and Megan led a strong group of ninth graders that came out for my first season.

They made girls’ tennis important and meaningful. They legitimized the sport.

Because of them, I enjoyed several years of 20+ players, many of whom were serious about learning and winning.

Another soccer/volleyball duo, Hannah and Megan grew to love tennis.

It worked out for them because they qualified for state during their junior year – the first state qualifiers I coached at CHS.

Their passion to learn, win, and lead their team was admirable, and they set the stage for many years to come after their graduation.

#3 doubles —McKenzie Bailey (’16)/Jazmine Franklin (’16)

McKenzie and Jazmine are the only players on either the boys’ or girls’ list who did not play the majority of their matches in the #1 spot.

McKenzie and Jazmine, or Salt ‘n Pepa, as they were known to their teammates, played behind Payton and Sage.

Had they played on just about any other team, McKenzie and Jazmine would have been a solid #1 doubles team.

They went something like 28-4 over their junior and senior seasons, and served as excellent captains as well.

They were about winning and fun, in that order. They lived out loud and I loved it.

#4 doubles (work in progress) — Avalon Renninger (’20)/Tia Wurzrainer (’20)

Av and Tia are the only active players on this list.

They are slated to play #1 doubles this year after a strong showing at last year’s district tourney.

They are a work in progress, and after next year and the year after, they could be on top of this list, or they could be off this list.

The smart money is putting  them higher on the list.

Av and Tia enter their junior year having had the experience of seeing Payton and Sage’s example as well as having been Payton and Sage’s punching bag.

Av and Tia have grown. If they continue to grow, and I think they will, they could make a run at a state medal very soon. Time will tell.

Tia is as steady as they come, both in her game and in her attitude. She is a calm ship captain.

Avalon wears her heart on her sleeve, and I can most certainly identify with that. She has one of the highest levels of want that I’ve ever seen.

The future is bright for Av and Tia, and I’m fortunate to be a part of it.

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Coupeville seniors Sage Renninger (left) and Payton Aparicio placed 4th at the state tennis tourney, bringing a smile to coach Ken Stange’s face. (Photos by CoupevillePaparazzi.com)

Celebrating the best finish by Wolf tennis players in 13 seasons.

Coupeville poses with South Whidbey’s Alison Papritz (left) and Mary Zisette. (Ken Stange photo)

Four years of hard work, of sweat, of big wins and tough losses, of leadership and friendship.

The whole magical ride came to a close Saturday morning for Coupeville High School seniors Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger, and it ended on an especially sweet note.

The duo, who were doubles partners from day one, bounced Elizabeth Grubb and Katie Keifer of Jenkins (Chewelah) 6-2, 6-3 to claim 4th place at the 1A/2B/1B state tennis tourney in Yakima.

The Wolves won three of four matches at the two-day event, falling only to the defending state champs in a three-set rumble.

The first CHS girl netters to medal in 13 seasons, they captured the second-best showing of any Wolf tennis players in the modern era, girls or boys.

Aparicio and Renninger stand with Taniel Lamb and Mindy Horr, who placed 2nd in doubles in 2005.

It was a great day, and weekend, for Whidbey tennis.

In a sport dominated by private schools, South Whidbey and Coupeville, both small, rural, public institutions, claimed 2nd and 4th in doubles.

Falcons Mary Zisette and Alison Papritz won their semifinal Saturday over Cascade Christian, then fell 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 in the final.

The tourney champs, for the second-straight year, were Amanda Lin and Maria Russinovich of Overlake, who outlasted Aparicio and Renninger in a three-set quarterfinal match.

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Tennis players Sage Renninger (left) and Payton Aparicio (right) went to Yakima for state, while track star Lauren Bayne headed to Cheney. (Photo by CoupevillePaparazzi.com)

It’s been a long time coming.

Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger were in kindergarten the last time a Coupeville High School girls tennis player brought a medal home from the state tourney.

The year was 2005 and Mindy Horr and Taniel Lamb finished 2nd, losing a three-set, genteel brawl with a pair of private school pros in the championship match.

Jump forward 13 years and it was time for a new generation of Wolf netters to sparkle.

Capping a splendid four-year run in which they have played together from day one of their freshman year, Aparicio and Renninger put on a show Friday in Yakima.

Winning two of three matches at the 1A/2B/1B state championships, with their only loss a narrow defeat to the defending state champs, the Wolf duo clinched a chance to play Saturday in a medal match.

After enduring three matches, and eight sets, Friday, Aparicio and Renninger will play just one match Saturday.

They’ll take the court at 8:30 AM to play Elizabeth Grubb and Katie Keifer of Jenkins (Chewelah) in the 4th/7th place match.

To get to Saturday’s showcase, Coupeville’s #1 tandem showcased their quiet grit, opening with a 6-4, 6-3 straight-sets win over Sierra Rothlisberger and Madeline Peebles of Chelan.

That propelled Aparicio and Renninger into the quarterfinals, where they faced off with Overlake’s Amanda Lin and Maria Russinovich, who captured the state title a year ago.

Not flinching in the face of a team with a gaudy resume, the Wolves forced the champs to play a full three sets, before falling 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

With two matches under their belts, Aparicio and Renninger squared off with Kendra Gay and Gillian Hartman of Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) and dropped the first set 6-3.

Needing to win to avoid elimination, the Wolf duo rallied to take the next two sets 6-4, 6-4, bouncing their Eastern Washington foes.

Coupeville tennis coach Ken Stange has put 13 years and 26 seasons into the Wolf program. While he’s had boys medal before, he had narrowly missed in previous trips with female netters.

Until Friday, when the Wolves showed the locals they didn’t travel across the state just for the scenery.

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   Coupeville’s Sage Renninger (left), Ken Stange and Payton Aparicio are off to Yakima this weekend for the 1A state girls tennis tourney. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Well, at least no one gets to play in their backyard.

When Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger pile into a van with Coupeville High School tennis coach Ken Stange and head off to the state tourney this weekend, they’ll have a long drive.

It’s 192.4 miles from Cow Town to Yakima, and the duo will be the first Wolf girls double team to make the trek in a decade.

But, at the least, their first-round foes in the double-elimination draw, Sierra Rothlisberger and Madeline Peebles of Chelan, have to travel 138.6 miles.

Win or lose, Aparicio and Renninger are guaranteed a second match Friday, and it will be against either defending state champs Amanda Lin and Maria Russinovich of Overlake or Kaylee Schow and Ally Vestal of Tenino.

Those duos are trekking 141.2 and 165.7 miles one-way, respectively, so no one can really fall back on the excuse of tired legs.

What the Wolves will face is temps expected to be in the 90’s and unfamiliar foes.

The duos headed to state whom Aparicio and Renninger have played — Mary Zisette and Alison Papritz of South Whidbey and Grace and Kate Jung of Cascade Christian — are on the other side of the 16-team draw.

In an intriguing twist, the Falcon duo will also face a Chelan team, made up of Elle Rothlisberger (younger sister of Sierra) and Bella Gatzemier.

The Mountain Goats (yes, that is Chelan’s mascot, and yes, it’s awesome) hail from the 1A Caribou Trail League and the Rothlisberger sisters are coached by dad Marty.

Depending on how they do, Aparicio and Renninger will play between 2-3 matches Friday. Make it to Saturday and they are guaranteed a top-eight finish, and the medals that come with that.

As the duo prepare for their final run as prep netters, a look at the pertinent details:

 

What:

1B/2B/1A girls tennis state tournament

 

Where:

Yakima Tennis Club
2505 Fruitvale Blvd
http://www.yakimatennis.com/

 

When:

May 25-26

 

Ticket prices:

It’s FREE … if you go all the way to Yakima.

 

WIAA tournament central site:

http://wiaa.com/subcontent.aspx?SecID=1163

 

Draw:

http://wiaa.com/ardisplay.aspx?ID=1772

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Coupeville seniors Sage Renninger (left) and Payton Aparicio are off to state, the first Wolf girls tennis players to make the trip East since 2010. (Photos by CoupevillePaparazzi.com)

Wolf sophomores Avalon Renninger (left) and Tia Wurzrainer split four matches at districts, finishing 4th out of eight duos.

Pack the sunscreen, floppy hats and Gatorade, cause the Wolves are headed to Sun Stroke City.

And they’re thrilled about it.

Coupeville High School seniors Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger will cap their stellar four-year run as a doubles duo by playing in the 1A/2B/1B girls tennis state championships in Yakima.

They punched their ticket to the big dance, where they’ll be playing on outdoor courts in 90-degree weather May 25-26, by placing 2nd Thursday at the West Central District 3 tourney.

Aparicio and Renninger are the first CHS girls tennis players to make it to state since 2010, when the Hard Court Assassin herself, Julia Sierra Castaño, advanced as a singles player.

You have to go back two years earlier, to 2008, to find the last time a Wolf female doubles duo (Megan Monroe and Hannah Merrell) played at state.

After sweeping two matches Wednesday, Aparicio and Renninger opened Thursday by playing for the district title.

While they fell 6-3, 6-0 to Cascade Christian sisters Grace and Kate Jung, the Wolves still had another opportunity to earn a ticket to state, and ending up coasting in without playing another point.

The battle for second pitted the loser of the final against the survivor of the loser’s bracket, UNLESS the two teams had already played.

In that case, the duo which won the first time around would get a walkover win.

And that’s how it played out, as Mei Ge and Casey Kim of Charles Wright Academy held off Coupeville’s sophomore sensations, Tia Wurzrainer and Avalon Renninger, 7-6, 6-4.

That nixed a chance for the trip to state coming down to CHS vs. CHS, and, since Ge and Kim lost to Aparicio and Sage Renninger Wednesday, the older Wolf duo were handed second place on the spot.

Coupeville’s young guns, who survived a loser-out match earlier Thursday, when they edged Maria Gonzalez and Abby Kwon of CWA 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, claimed 4th place out of eight doubles teams.

The two duos, and singles player Claire Mietus, who lost two matches Wednesday and was a fan on day two, helped Coupeville finish third in the team standings behind CWA and Vashon Island.

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