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This spring was to be the 30th season for Coupeville High School tennis coach Ken Stange. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic closed schools, erased spring sports, and prevented Senior Nights.

With that in mind, we’ve been giving Whidbey Island students and coaches a chance to offer those farewells online instead of in person.

Today, Coupeville High School girls tennis guru Ken Stange swings by to offer some heartfelt words.

 

In tennis, and in life, there are times when one just knows … knows how things are going to turn out.

Certainty. Well, almost certainty.

After 15 years at the helm of the CHS tennis program (that’s 30 seasons, if you count both the boys and girls), I’ve gotten to the point where I know if someone, or a doubles pair, is a serious threat to earn a state berth.

I knew it with Julia Sierra Castano, the Spanish Assassin.

I knew it with Aaron Curtin and Ben Etzell, and again when Aaron went to state in singles.

I knew it with Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger.

Like I said, sometimes you just know.

Some seasons, you know it’s a rebuild. Other seasons, you know there’s a deep but inexperienced team.

This year? I knew.

I knew that we had a group of new players that would learn the game from their captains, Avalon (Renninger) and Tia (Wurzrainer).

I knew we were returning all three of our doubles teams.

Jaimee (Masters), Emily (Fiedler), Eryn (Wood), and Abby (Mulholland) were primed to win buckets of matches.

I knew that all three doubles teams were pretty damn good last season, and that this season, our team would challenge for a league title.

I knew we would have competitive matches with our Island rivals, South Whidbey.

I knew that we had a doubles team, in Avalon and Tia, that would challenge for an elusive state berth.

Avalon Renninger swats a lethal left-handed shot.

This was to be our team’s return to the top.

We were going to do it with hard work and style.

It was the 2020 season, and our team was going to be the focus.

Alas, bigger problems took center stage, and our season was over almost as fast as it started.

I know that public health wins over tennis, every time, and I know that we all made our sacrifices, for the greater good.

That said, I’m still mad as hell. I’m very sad, too.

I feel badly for the ladies that were gearing up for a fun and successful season.

I feel bad for the parents, who love to come out in support of their kids, school, and community.

There are two individuals who, in my opinion, lost a little more than everyone else associated with the program.

Avalon and Tia were the heart and soul of CHS tennis.

Tia Wurzrainer keeps the rally alive.

They were two talented and caring players who continued the proud tradition of the CHS ladies’ tennis team.

They worked their butts off.

As sophomores, they were within a couple of points from clinching a state berth.

As juniors, they ran into a few buzzsaws from Seattle, prematurely ending their season.

Going into the senior campaign, they got to work.

My spine was recovered enough so I could actually hit hard balls at them, and they had Drake Borden, who was basically their personal hitting partner.

With the help from Drake and I, along with Av and Tia’s high levels of talent and work ethic, we are well on our way to a successful season.

I just knew.

Knowing that a potentially successful campaign, and a run to state for Avalon and Tia, has been lost, I’m very sad.

I love it when we have a dominant team. It’s always more fun when winning!

What hurts most about the lost season is not that we lost a chance to be dominant.

What hurts most is that my seniors, Avalon and Tia, were two of the classiest players ever to grace the courts at CHS.

They were fierce competitors and best of friends.

They mentored other players and kept their teammates accountable. They were serious about tennis while maintaining a lighthearted attitude.

Classy, pure and simple.

I’d hoped that they would place themselves at or near the top of my all-time best doubles teams, with a solid senior season and a state berth.

They are still at or near the top of my list, though.

As a pair, they were a force to be reckoned with.

As individuals, they were two of my absolute favorites who led their team with grace, class, and fun.

Tia … calm, cool, and collected.

She would probably argue with me, but I think Tia is perfect.

Kind, intelligent, intuitive, and hard working. I don’t think I ever heard a single negative word pass through her lips.

Her work ethic was second to none. Anyone would be happy to have her as a partner, me included.

Avalon … she holds a special place in my heart because she wears her heart on her sleeve. I can relate to that.

It’s completely honest.

She’s cried, she’s celebrated, and she’s worked her tail off to always improve.

Together, they made a lethal doubles combo.

Each knew how to handle the other. They had a fantastic yin and yang.

Av and Tia grew up with my daughter, Oliana. I’ve known them since they were tots.

Watching them grow and evolve from tots to adults has been a treat.

Having them as part of the tennis program has been an honor.

The competition, the conversations, the post-match meals, the road trips…all made better because of Av and Tia.

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Coupeville High School will honor spring athletes such as Raven Vick (left) and Megan Behan next week. (Brian Vick photo)

Coupeville High School will award letters to many of its spring athletes, even though the COVID-19 pandemic erased the season.

That was the word Wednesday from Wolf Athletic Director Willie Smith, as he laid out a plan to honor those who would have been playing.

All seniors, and all returning underclassmen letter winners will letter, while all other CHS athletes will receive certificates of participation.

“Our coaches, whom I believe have huge hearts for kids, had a very good discussion about how we can honor our spring athletes as well as honor our goals of making lettering mean something,” Smith said.

The decision was made after reviewing what other schools and districts were doing to address the situation.

“Our logic behind this decision was to honor our seniors because they, of all the athletes participating, lost the most with the cancellation of the spring season,” Smith said.

“We didn’t feel it minimized the lettering process but did reward our seniors for something that was out of all our control and was the least we could do to help alleviate at least a small part of the disappointment.

“Secondly, rather than have our coaches try to determine who would or wouldn’t letter this year, we felt using last year as a barometer for lettering our underclassman was the most fair way to do this.

“We understand there is no perfect way to do this but we felt that we could honor our athletes this way, give our seniors a little positive out of all of this, and also allow those that lettered last year to be able to do it this year.

“Again, not perfect, not ideal, but we felt it was right for our kids and programs.”

Smith has set up a schedule for May 26-29 for athletes to come to the CHS gym lobby to return uniforms, pick up team pictures, and receive their letters or certificates.

 

Girls Tennis — Tuesday, May 26 @ 2:00
Boys Soccer — Wednesday, May 27 @ 3:00
Track and Field — Wednesday, May 27 @ 3:00
Softball — Thursday, May 28 @ 3:00
Baseball — Friday, May 29 @ 1:00

 

If athletes or parents have questions, they’re asked to contact their head coaches:

Baseball — Chris Smith — csmith@coupeville.k12.wa.us
Boys Soccer — Kyle Nelson — knelson@coupeville.k12.wa.us
Girls Tennis — Ken Stange — kstange@coupeville.k12.wa.us
Softball — Kevin McGranahan — kmcgranahan@coupeville.k12.wa.us
Track and Field — Randy King — rking@coupeville.k12.wa.us

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Mary Milnes plays for the love of the game. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Eryn Wood swats a shot while holding court last spring.

The courts were alive with the sound of tennis balls being whacked by rackets.

And then, silence.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a brutally-quick ending to the spring sports season, preventing Coupeville High School teams from playing any contests against rival schools.

For a Wolf tennis team which offered a mix of returning veterans and bright-eyed newcomers, that’s a shame.

But even if their season ended too soon, we can still take a moment to recognize the netters and their coaches.

The 2020 CHS girls tennis team would have been…

 

Alita Blouin
Cecilia Camarena
Kim Castro
Monica Clark
Noelle Daigneault
Emily Fiedler
Hayley Fiedler
Cassidy Holmes
Jaimee Masters
Katelin McCormick
Mary Milnes
Abby Mulholland
Avalon Renninger
Marie Roberts
Cypress Socha
Helen Strelow
Lucy Tenore
Eryn Wood
Tia Wurzrainer

Ken Stange (Head Coach)
Drake Borden (Assistant Coach)

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Spring sports approach, which means Maya Toomey-Stout is about to return to action. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

You can see the end from here.

The upcoming spring sports season, which kicks off March 2, is the finale for both the 2019-2020 school year, and for Coupeville’s two-year run in the North Sound Conference.

When a new school year rolls around in the fall, CHS will have dropped down a classification, from 1A to 2B, and will be off to rejoin old-school rivals in the Northwest 2B/1B League.

But, before we get there, five Wolf teams still have a season to play, with one squad — the softball sluggers — seeking to exit with back-to-back league titles.

As you peruse the schedules below, know that Mother Nature will undoubtedly wreak havoc with them at some point.

So, use them as a jumping off point, but also keep an eye out for changes, which you can find at a couple of places.

School website — http://coupeville.tandem.co/

League website — http://www.nscathletics.com/index.php?pid=0.60.0.0.200

In the varsity schedules below, asterisks indicate a league game, and to the surprise of almost everyone, four of the five Wolf spring teams have more home games than road trips.

And, while track and field is the only sport which will spend more time on the bus than hanging out in its own grandstand, the program has three home meets, which is still pretty dang good.

 

BASEBALL:

Tues-Mar. 17 — @ Friday Harbor (4:00)
Fri-Mar. 20 — Lynden Christian (TBA)
Sat-Mar. 21 — Overlake (1:00)
Mon-Mar. 23 — Cedar Park Christian* (4:00)
Wed-Mar. 25 — Cedar Park Christian* (4:00)
Fri-Mar. 27 — @ Cedar Park Christian* (3:30)
Mon-Mar. 30 — Chimacum (4:00)
Wed-Apr. 1 — University Prep (4:00)
Mon-Apr. 6 — King’s* (4:00)
Wed-Apr. 8 — @ King’s* (6:00)
Fri-Apr. 10 — King’s* (4:00)
Mon-Apr. 13 — @ South Whidbey* (4:00)
Wed-Apr. 15 — South Whidbey* (4:00)
Fri-Apr. 17 — @ South Whidbey* (4:00)
Mon-Apr. 20 — @ Sultan* (4:00)
Wed-Apr. 22 — Sultan* (4:00)
Fri-Apr. 24 — @ Sultan* (4:00)
Mon-Apr. 27 — @ Granite Falls* (4:00)
Wed-Apr. 29 — Granite Falls* (4:00)
Fri-May 1 — @ Granite Falls* (4:00)

 

BOYS SOCCER:

Mon-Mar. 16 — @ Mount Baker (4:30)
Thurs-Mar. 19 — Meridian (TBA)
Sat-Mar. 21 — Nooksack Valley (TBA)
Tues-Mar. 24 — @ King’s* (7:00)
Fri-Mar. 27 — @ Sultan* (7:00)
Tues-Mar. 31 — Cedar Park Christian* (6:45)
Fri-Apr. 3 — South Whidbey* (6:45)
Tues-Apr. 14 — @ Granite Falls* (6:00)
Fri-Apr. 17 — King’s* (6:45)
Tues-Apr. 21 — Sultan* (6:45)
Fri-Apr. 24 — @ Cedar Park Christian* (6:00)
Tues-Apr. 28 — @ South Whidbey* (6:00)
Thurs-Apr. 30 — Granite Falls* (6:45)

 

GIRLS TENNIS:

Tues-Mar. 17 — Oak Harbor (3:30)
Thurs-Mar. 26 — @ King’s* (3:30)
Thurs-Apr. 2 — Anacortes (3:30)
Fri-Apr. 3 — Bear Creek (3:30)
Tues-Apr. 14 — @ South Whidbey* (3:30)
Tues-Apr. 21 — @ Granite Falls* (3:30)
Thurs-Apr. 23 — Port Angeles (3:30)
Tues-Apr. 28 — King’s* (3:30)
Thurs-Apr. 30 — South Whidbey* (3:30)
Fri-May 1 — Friday Harbor* (3:30)
Tues-May 5 — @ Friday Harbor* (3:30)
Thurs-May 7 — Granite Falls* (3:30)

 

SOFTBALL:

Tues-Mar. 17 — @ Friday Harbor (4:00)
Fri-Mar. 20 — Lynden Christian (4:00)
Thur-Mar. 26 — @ Cedar Park Christian* (4:00)
Tues-Mar. 31 — Granite Falls* (4:00)
Thur-Apr. 2 — Sultan* (4:00)
Tues-Apr. 14 — @ South Whidbey* (4:00)
Sat-Apr. 18 — @ Meridian (1:00)
Mon-Apr. 20 — @ Cedar Park Christian* (4:00)
Wed-Apr. 22 — Granite Falls* (4:00)
Fri-Apr. 24 — Sultan* (4:00)
Tues-Apr. 28 — @ South Whidbey* (4:00)
Sat-May 2 — Forks (1:00)
Sat-May 2 — Forks (3:00)
Mon-May 4 — Cedar Park Christian* (4:00)
Wed-May 6 — @ Granite Falls* (4:00)
Fri-May 8 — @ Sultan* (4:00)
Tues-May 12 — South Whidbey* (4:00)

 

TRACK:

Thur-Mar. 19 @ Oak Harbor Jamboree (3:30)
Thur-Mar. 26 — @ King’s (4:00)
Sat-Mar. 28 — HOME (11:00)
Thur-Apr. 2 — HOME (4:00)
Thur-Apr. 16 — @ Granite Falls (4:00)
Sat-Apr. 18 — @ Lil Norway (11:00)
Thur-Apr. 23 — HOME (4:00)
Thur-Apr. 30 — @ Granite Falls (4:00)

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Avalon Renninger is a vital part of Wolf girls tennis and basketball, the two most-successful CHS athletic programs during the Coupeville Sports days. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The girls rule Coupeville High School.

And before you offer an argument, it’s right there in black and white.

This blog launched August 15, 2012, which means it’s been in place for seven complete school years at this point.

In that time, the 10 CHS athletic teams which keep win/loss records have combined to post 19 winning seasons, with 14 of those coming from female athletes.

That’s 73.6%, so the argument is more than done (at least at this moment in time).

Those 10 sports (we’re not counting track or cross country, which operate in their own world of score-keeping) include five girls teams and five boys squads.

On the girls side, all five sports have at least one winning season during the run of Coupeville Sports, while three of the five boys teams have yet to break .500 between 2012-2013 and 2018-2019.

The last seven years have seen Coupeville compete in three different leagues.

Two final years in the 1A/2A Cascade Conference were followed by four years in the Olympic League, then the 2018-2019 school year kicked off the 1A North Sound Conference.

The years spent with Klahowya, Port Townsend, and Chimacum in the Olympic League were the sweet spot, as CHS captured the most league wins of any of the four schools, while claiming 14 of its 19 winning seasons.

Back in the company of private schools like King’s and Cedar Park Christian this past year, the Wolves took a step back, percentage-wise, but still claimed three winning campaigns.

That was one more than CHS totaled across its final two years of being hammered by Archbishop Thomas Murphy and Co. in the old Cascade Conference.

Looking at the results, there are several things which emerge.

The two CHS programs with the highest winning percentages from 2012-2013 to 2018-2019 — girls tennis and girls basketball — only had one coach during that time period.

Ken Stange, who has also guided boys tennis to the fifth-best mark, was already in place long before I left the Coupeville Examiner to start this blog, while girls hoop guru David King was hired right as it began.

Girls tennis holds down the #1 slot, despite taking a step back the past two seasons, while volleyball and softball are rising up the rankings, with each having posted three-straight winning seasons.

Overall, counting league and non-league clashes, Coupeville has compiled a 482-667 record during my blogging days. That’s a .419 winning percentage.

Better than a lot of schools, but no one is going to call us a state powerhouse anytime soon.

As we head into a second season in the North Sound Conference, with the possible promise of a long-anticipated return to 2B a year from now, my hope is for the wins to keep trending upward.

If nothing else, that makes my job easier, and making my job easier is priority #1.

It’s not? Well, it should be.

 

Breakdown by sport:

 

Girls Tennis:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 9-3
2013-2014 6-7
2014-2015 11-3
2015-2016 10-3
2016-2017 6-3
2017-2018 7-8
2018-2019 2-7
(51-34) .600

 

Girls Basketball:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 6-16
2013-2014 10-13
2014-2015 15-7
2015-2016 16-6
2016-2017 15-6
2017-2018 8-14
2018-2019 9-10
(79-72) .523

 

Baseball:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 10-12
2013-2014 14-11
2014-2015 9-10
2015-2016 10-12
2016-2017 11-9
2017-2018 15-6
2018-2019 7-14
(76-74) .507

 

Softball:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 6-16
2013-2014 8-20
2014-2015 7-12
2015-2016 9-11
2016-2017 19-5
2017-2018 12-9
2018-2019 15-10
(76-83) .478

 

Boys Tennis:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 4-4
2013-2014 0-7
2014-2015 4-5
2015-2016 5-3
2016-2017 5-8
2017-2018 6-7
2018-2019 8-6
(32-40) .444

 

Volleyball:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 4-13
2013-2014 3-12
2014-2015 1-11
2015-2016 6-10
2016-2017 11-6
2017-2018 13-5
2018-2019 11-5
(49-62) .441

 

Girls Soccer:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 1-16-0
2013-2014 2-14-0
2014-2015 6-7-1
2015-2016 6-7-3
2016-2017 8-7-1
2017-2018 8-9-0
2018-2019 2-12-1
(33-72-6) .324

 

Boys Soccer:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 3-14-0
2013-2014 5-10-2
2014-2015 3-11-0
2015-2016 5-9-1
2016-2017 4-11-1
2017-2018 7-9-2
2018-2019 6-10-0
(33-74-6) .319

 

Football:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 2-9
2013-2014 4-5
2014-2015 5-5
2015-2016 1-9
2016-2017 3-7
2017-2018 3-7
2018-2019 3-6
(21-48) .304

 

Boys Basketball:

School Year: W/L:
2012-2013 1-21
2013-2014 3-17
2014-2015 7-13
2015-2016 9-11
2016-2017 3-17
2017-2018 7-13
2018-2019 2-16
(32-108) .229

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