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Archive for the ‘Tennis’ Category

Zoe Trujillo, the newest member of the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

She made it look effortless.

Even if I know it wasn’t.

I know she worked hard behind the scenes, just like her sister. Her family has always embraced hard work, sacrifice, and commitment.

But when Zoe Trujillo played, she made it look effortless.

Sporting killer socks, a young Zoe eyeballs her rivals on the basketball court.

It’s not always easy to be the younger sister, to follow the path laid down by an older sibling, especially if that person was a one-of-a-kind athlete and human being.

But Zoe Trujillo, like big sis Valen, always rose to the moment.

Put her next to a volleyball net, place her on a tennis court, or drop her into the world of track and field, and the little sister crafted her own highlight reel, made her own memories.

Zoe was lethal when unleashed, gracefully twirling into the air, pausing for a second or two in mid-flight to survey the scene on the other side of the net, then ripping off a laser of a spike.

She was a big hitter and a big part of the success of a Coupeville High School volleyball program which never finished lower than second-place in league during her four years on campus.

Her senior season in the fall of 2019 was a particular highlight, for the Wolves and for Zoe.

Led by an eight-pack of seniors, including the younger of the Trujillo sisters, CHS opened 7-0, went 13-2 in the regular season (losing only to state power King’s) and finished 14-5.

Narrowly missing out on a trip to state, those Wolves tied the program’s record for wins.

Some of the biggest moments, the ones which provided the most bang for the ticket buyer’s buck, came when Zoe elevated and smashed.

Zoe and Maddie Vondrak get down with their bad selves.

It was there, in those displays of crackling power and shimmering intensity, where she made the gym walls rock and mom Amy bounce happily in her seat.

Dad Craig spent a lot of his time toeing a line down on the floor, and, as a properly impartial linesman, had to pretend to be impassive when his younger daughter whistled a winner past his shoe.

It was only after the set or the match was complete, and he had returned to dad status up in the bleachers, that he beamed like a lightbulb powering up, glowing with the pride which his daughters brought out in him.

Zoe played a different position than Valen on the volleyball floor, the former an outside hitter, the latter a libero.

But both always carried themselves with a quiet grace, filled with a burning intensity, but always calm, composed, and attentive to the words of their coaches and the feelings of their teammates.

That carried over to the tennis court, where Zoe swatted her shots in a manner which, and stop me if you’ve heard this before — often looked effortless.

Zoe flicks a winner on a rainy spring afternoon.

She was a nimble player, mixing power with a nice touch, and advanced to districts as a young doubles player, before stepping away from the sport.

There was also a stint with the CHS track team as a sophomore, where she threw the javelin, competed in the long jump and triple jump, and ran in both the 200 and 4 x 100 relay.

While she never played basketball in high school, much like her older sister, Zoe showed promise on the hardwood during her middle school days.

But it was volleyball which lured her in, captivated her, and let her express herself best across six seasons in a Wolf uniform.

Through some of the biggest wins and toughest losses in program history, Zoe soared and delighted.

When she left the floor after her final prep match, she was taller, stronger, more confident, more polished than she had been when she first pulled on a Coupeville uniform.

But, from the earliest days as a middle school athlete to her senior swan song, one thing remained the same — Zoe was always, without fail, a class act.

Today, we’re revisiting her days as a Wolf, because we’re about to welcome her into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, you’ll find her hanging out up at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

Inducted for her talent, her temperament, her grace, her humility, and for her heart, Zoe joins Valen in our digital shrine — two sisters who worked their own magic, in their own way.

Each chose a path, accomplished great things along the way, and are now off to top those school-day achievements with success in the adult world.

Zoe never coasted on the value of her last name or on the talent she was born with.

She worked for everything, and she earned everything.

Even if she did made it look effortless.

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Mason Grove, here to entertain. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mason Grove would make Alexander Hamilton proud, cause the former Wolf never, ever threw away his shot.

Instead, the 2020 CHS grad spent most of his days in the red and black making the net jump, three-ball after three-ball falling from the skies.

Grove feared no rival on the hardwood, and played basketball in the style of a Damian Lillard, letting fly from any angle, any spot on the floor, at any point in the game.

From a scrappy, undersized youngster to a confident elder statesmen and team leader, his journey on the basketball court was a thrilling one to watch for hoops fans.

Not that Grove was a one-sport guy, as he also excelled on the tennis courts and baseball diamond.

Grove always seemed to enjoy his time as an athlete, even after a collision with teammate Matt Hilborn left him with a smashed-up nose. (Chris Smith photo)

He made an especially-strong case for himself with a racket in hand, where he meshed often dynamic shot-making skills with a nice bit of attitude.

Paired up with James Wood, Grove was a top doubles ace for Ken Stange’s Wolf tennis squads, and the duo thrived in the spotlight of being Coupeville’s #1 team.

But, while he was a jack of all trades on the baseball diamond, and a throwback to a better, grittier time on the tennis court — unlike most modern players, Grove wasn’t afraid to drill a rival player with the ball, something which makes ’80s tennis players such as myself nod in approval — it’s basketball which dominates his resume.

“You will not score! I will … a lot … but you won’t!!” (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Grove loved to shoot, and, while he developed as an attacker as he matured, getting to the free throw line more often, the three-ball was his prime weapon.

His shot was always a little bit different than a lot of other players, as he would rear back and fling the ball from over his shoulder.

And it worked, big time.

Since he snapped off his shots, Grove almost always got the ball up before defenders could adjust, and the resulting heaves were rainbows caressing the roof of the gym.

When he got hot, it seemed like he would never miss, shot after shot rippling the net, while Grove, slight smirk hiding behind his mouth guard, ambled away like a gunfighter after another successful shoot-out at high noon.

Early in his CHS hoops career, he was on pace to be the highest-scoring JV player the Wolf boys program had ever seen.

In one game against Port Townsend, Grove rained down 10 three-balls on his way to 34 points, and the only reason he didn’t catch Allen Black for the single-season JV scoring mark was because his JV playing time became limited as varsity coach Brad Sherman started using him as a go-to gunner.

Once he made his mark at the varsity level, immediately stroking long-range shots and opening space for older teammate Hunter Smith to rumble, Grove never looked back.

He was the #6 scorer on the varsity team as a sophomore, despite playing in just a handful of minutes, then jumped to #3 as a junior and #1 during his senior season.

When he walked off the court for the final time at CHS, after a season and prep career-ending playoff loss, Grove had rung up 414 points in varsity games, which puts him #54 all-time for a program which has played for 103 seasons.

And the numbers are nice, definitely.

But it’s how he played which fans will remember.

In all of his sports, Grove was just flat-out entertaining, capable and willing of putting on a show.

He always got the most out of his talent, and seemed to enjoy every moment he had on a court or field.

So, for the numbers, and for the style, and for the way he would stand off to the side, talking and smiling with a rival player, while free throws were being shot, and then, bam, two seconds later, drill a three-ball right in that guy’s face, he joins big sis Lauren in the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, you’ll find the duo up at the top of the blog, hanging out under the Legends tab.

Right where they belong.

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Veteran CHS tennis coach Ken Stange is recovering from spinal fusion surgery after a nasty fall. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Ken Stange has fallen, but you can help him get back up.

The longtime Coupeville High School tennis coach is recovering from spinal fusion surgery to repair an L1 vertebrae fracture suffered in a nasty fall off a ladder.

The good news is doctors tell Stange he can eventually be back on the tennis court, both as a coach and player.

The bad news is during much of his recovery, he won’t be able to work.

After many years as a teacher, Stange purchased Bailey’s Corner Store in Clinton in 2015.

One of Whidbey’s top tennis players, he has taken the lessons learned from his own on-court action and used them to guide the Wolf netters.

With 27 seasons in the book (14 years with the CHS boys and headed for year #14 with the girls this spring), he is the second longest-tenured active head coach in Coupeville.

Stange trails just Randy King, who put in 20 seasons with Wolf boys basketball and is headed towards a 14th year of running CHS track.

To offer a helping hand to Coupeville’s net guru, pop over to:

https://www.gofundme.com/ken039s-fusion-fund

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Coupeville grad Joey Lippo is off to play college tennis in Kentucky. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Tennis it is.

Joey Lippo was a three-sport star during his days at Coupeville High School, anchoring Wolf teams in tennis, basketball and baseball.

He was also the rare male athlete who could do a mean dance as well, often joining twin sister Skyy in her world of ballet, when he performed in productions of The Nutcracker.

But now Lippo, a 2018 CHS grad, will devote himself solely to the racket arts, after agreeing to play tennis for Midway University in Kentucky.

The liberal arts school competes athletically in the River States Conference, and is part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Most NAIA schools offer athletic scholarships, and Midway has pledged to pick up a substantial portion of Lippo’s college costs, making his parents hearts sing with great joy.

In addition to playing tennis, Lippo will study environmental science. School begins Jan. 7, with tennis starting in Feb.

He’s joining an Eagles program which is still in its infancy, as Midway was an all-girls school until just recently.

Founded in 1847, the school was originally known as the Kentucky Female Orphan School and admitted its first male undergraduates in time for the fall 2017 semester.

Midway University sits smack-dab on a 200-acre working farm in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, and the oldest building on campus, Pinkerton Hall, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

While the school has been around for a long time, Lippo is one of the pioneers for male sports at the institution.

The men’s tennis program is in just its second season, with coach Joe Reyes, a highly-accomplished former college player, quickly building a strong roster.

The Eagles currently lay claim to players from Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Texas, plus four foreign netters, one from Spain and three from Columbia.

And now you can add Washington state to the list.

“The tennis coach found me somehow and told me to come visit the school,” Lippo said. “I got to play with the team and I loved that environment and everyone was so welcoming.

“It’s a small school and reminds me a lot of Coupeville.”

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   Coupeville’s days as a tennis power will likely take a hit when the Olympic League combines 1A and 2A programs in the sport next school year. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The path to an Olympic League tennis title has always gone through Coupeville.

Starting next school year, however, that path is going to get a lot rockier.

The Wolf boys have won two crowns in four seasons since joining the newly-created 1A division of the league in 2014, while the CHS girls are a perfect 3-for-3 heading into next spring.

In fact, the Coupeville girls have never lost a match to rivals Klahowya and Chimacum/Port Townsend, and will carry a 15-0 mark in league tilts onto the court in 2018.

While the pursuit of title #4 will remain the same, the chase for title #5 may take a substantial detour.

When the 2018-2019 school year arrives, the 1A division of the Olympic League will merge with the 2A side of things for tennis, creating a 10-team conference for the sport.

That means just one league champ, and not the current two.

The new format only covers the regular season, as 1A and 2A schools will go their own way once the postseason arrives.

All other sports will remain separated between 1A and 2A.

While Coupeville has been playing most of the Olympic League’s 2A schools in non-conference tennis matches, the new format means they would have to upend much-larger schools to retain their title-winning ways.

Instead of just thumping on the Eagles and Cowboys, the Wolves will have to also vie with North Kitsap, Sequim, North Mason, Olympic, Kingston, Bremerton and Port Angeles.

Those schools have student bodies of 527-876 students, which means Coupeville (227 in the last classification count) will experience some deja vu, harkening back to its former days competing in the 1A/2A Cascade Conference.

In the new format North Kitsap (810 students) will overwhelmingly be the team to beat.

On the boys side the Vikings are currently operating on a 41-match winning streak, dating back to a loss to Sequim in Oct. 2014.

The NK girls have lost more recently, but that’s not a common occurrence, as they are still a very-tidy 51-3 over the past four seasons.

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