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Koby Schreiber won his match Tuesday against University Prep. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

No small challenges.

Two Coupeville High School athletic teams faced a similar dilemma Tuesday – how to respond when facing off with the defending state champs.

And, while both the Wolf boys tennis and girls soccer squads ended up falling to their private school rivals, they met at least part of that challenge, keeping the score competitive and putting up a solid fight.

The CHS booters fell 4-0 to visiting King’s, while the Wolf netters exited their home court after absorbing a 4-1 loss to University Prep.

The defeats dropped soccer to 0-2-1 on the young season and tennis to 1-1.

While Coupeville didn’t get a goal past the Knights, they did have a fair amount of quality shots, while Wolf goaltender Sarah Wright snagged a variety of skillful saves.

“We put up a good fight, and beside a lack of focus to start the game and second half, we played really well,” said CHS coach Kyle Nelson. “I saw improved play all over the field; we are headed in the right direction quickly.”

The net squad, facing a U Prep team which has rolled to back-to-back state titles, got a win at #2 singles from Drake Borden, and pressed the Pumas hard in several other matches.

Complete Tuesday tennis results:

Varsity:

1st Singles — Jakobi Baumann lost 6-3, 6-0

2nd Singles — Drake Borden won 7-5, 7-5

1st Doubles — Zach Ginnings/Jacob Burke lost 6-0, 6-0

2nd Doubles — Mason Grove/James Wood lost 7-6(7-2), 6-1

3rd Doubles — Tiger Johnson/Jaschon Baumann lost 6-3, 6-4

JV:

3rd Singles — Koby Schreiber won 6-2

4th Doubles — Harris Sinclair/Andrew Aparicio lost 6-0

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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.

Seriously.

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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   William Nelson teamed with Joey Lippo Friday to knock off a top-level Overlake doubles duo. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

State or bust.

That’s the goal for Coupeville High School senior tennis players William Nelson and Joey Lippo, who came very close to punching their ticket to the big dance last year, and want to clear that last hurdle before graduation.

With that in mind, their performance Friday was sterling.

Bouncing back after suffering their first loss of the season a day earlier, the Wolf doubles duo knocked off a pair of top-tier talents from visiting Overlake in straight sets.

While the ritzy private school powerhouse won the non-conference match 4-1, Lippo and Nelson’s triumph was a big deal, as it came against a duo the Wolf netters are likely to face deep in the postseason.

Their win at #1 doubles also allowed Coupeville to post a better score against Overlake than South Whidbey did, as the Falcons, who had drilled the Wolves Thursday, were blanked 5-0 by the Owls earlier this season.

After struggling to a 1-5 record against strong competition, CHS wades into league play full-force in the next two weeks.

The Wolves play four of their next five matches against Olympic League rivals Klahowya and Chimacum.

Complete Friday results:

Varsity:

1st Singles — Pedro Gamarra lost to Reyhan Virani 6-0, 6-1

2nd Singles — Jakobi Baumann lost to Ananth Iyer 6-2, 6-3

1st Doubles — William Nelson/Joey Lippo beat Wesley Chan/Charlie Hill 6-2, 6-4

2nd Doubles — Nick Etzell/Mason Grove lost to Nachiket Karmarkar/Zander Gillett 6-0, 6-4

3rd Doubles — Nile Lockwood/Zach Ginnings lost to Evan Lauer/Lucas Gavrila 7-6(7-1), 6-2

JV:

4th Doubles — Tiger Johnson/Jaschon Baumann lost 8-1

5th Doubles — Thane Peterson/Drake Borden lost 8-7(7-5)

6th Doubles — Koby Schreiber/Harris Sinclair lost 8-5

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