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   Nanci Melendrez teamed with Jillian Mayne Friday to push their 2A foes hard in a narrow loss. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

No one can accuse the Coupeville netters of not swinging for the stars.

By the time the season is done, the Wolves, who rep a 2B-sized school masquerading as a 1A, will have played almost half of their matches against 2A foes.

Facing much-deeper, more battle-tested squads, Coupeville has seen its win/loss record take a bit of a hit.

But learning under fire should hopefully benefit the Wolves in league and postseason play.

Friday, CHS ran into another 2A buzz-saw, falling 6-1 to host Olympic in Bremerton, but the Wolves came away with one huge bright spot at #1 doubles.

Seniors Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger continued their stellar run, picking apart their big school rivals for a quick, straight-sets win.

“They’ve found a new, higher level,” said Coupeville coach Ken Stange.

The Wolves, 4-6 overall, have a key week coming up.

For one, they play only 1A schools, and two of the matches will be against Olympic League foes.

CHS, which is 2-0 in conference action, travels to Chimacum (2-1) Tuesday, then after a non-conference home match with South Whidbey the next day, ambles to Silverdale Thursday.

The finale to the week pits the Wolves against Klahowya (0-3) for a match-and-a-half.

The two teams need to finish the final three bouts from a rain-delayed match (the team score is tied 2-2), then play their regularly-scheduled match.

Complete Friday results:

Varsity:

1st Singles — Genna Wright lost to Marissa Nemeth 6-0, 6-0

2nd Singles — Heather Nastali lost to Breanne Nemeth 6-0, 6-1

3rd Singles — Zara Bradley lost to Jamie Frei 6-2, 6-4

1st Doubles — Sage Renninger/Payton Aparicio beat Sydney Troy/Brooklyn Haro 6-1, 6-3

2nd Doubles — Tia Wurzrainer/Avalon Renninger lost to SarahAnn Polsin/Emry Bohlman 6-0, 7-5

3rd Doubles — Maggie Crimmins/Kameryn St Onge lost to Kaylani Riley/Ryleigh Barrett 6-1, 6-1

4th Doubles — Jillian Mayne/Nanci Melendrez lost to Alexis Valenzuela/Nicole Barber 7-6(7-5), 6-4

JV:

5th Doubles — Jaimee Masters/Emily Fiedler lost 6-3

6th Doubles — Megan Behan/Elaira Nicolle lost 6-2

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   Kameryn St Onge ripped off a series of silky shots Wednesday as she and partner Maggie Crimmins sailed to a straight-sets win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was a genteel beat-down.

In a match where every other sentence began with “thank you” and the sound of laughter-laced conversation drifted from almost every court, Wednesday’s girls tennis match was far from a fight to the death.

Even if one team convincingly crushed the other between the lines.

The victor was a Coupeville High School squad which captured its fourth win in its last five matches, blanking visiting Friday Harbor 5-0.

The non-conference victory, coming against a longtime foe, lifts the Wolves to 4-5 on the season.

Adding two wins in three JV matches (against Friday Harbor’s varsity players), Coupeville was on cruise control all afternoon.

In fact, CHS coach Ken Stange gave his top two players a break, sending doubles duo Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger off to train with a volunteer assistant coach rather than play against Friday Harbor.

The Wolves who did take the court were often deadly efficient, with Kameryn St Onge and Avalon Renninger, in particular, ripping off some extremely-nasty left-handed winners in two different matches.

The biggest drama came at #1 singles, but it didn’t involve any shot-making or rallies.

Instead, it arrived thanks to a broken shoelace which momentarily brought Coupeville ace Claire Mietus down low midway through the second set.

But, after pulling out the remaining lace, moving it around and retying a now much-shorter lace, she was able to keep her shoe on her foot long enough to close out her second win in as many days.

 

Complete Wednesday results:

Varsity:

1st Singles — Claire Mietus beat Alli Benz 6-2, 6-4

2nd Singles — Genna Wright beat Laurel Robertson 6-2, 6-3

1st Doubles — Avalon Renninger/Tia Wurzrainer beat Midi Thomas/Joely Loucks 6-0, 6-2

2nd Doubles — Maggie Crimmins/Kameryn St Onge beat Katie Kulseth/Tori Polda 6-2, 7-6(7-5)

3rd Doubles — Jillian Mayne/Zara Bradley beat Rachel Snow/Kai Di Bona 6-0, 6-2

JV:

4th Doubles — Heather Nastali/Megan Behan beat Thomas/Loucks 8-6

5th Doubles — Jaimee Masters/Emily Fiedler lost to Benz/Robertson 6-4

6th Doubles — Nanci Melendrez/Elaira Nicolle beat Di Bona/Snow 7-5

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   After playing singles all season, Wolf senior Claire Mietus teamed with Tia Wurzrainer Tuesday to win at #2 doubles. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

No, it will never, ever stop raining this spring.

That point was driven home yet again Tuesday, as the Coupeville High School girls tennis squad traveled to Silverdale, got on the court, but then couldn’t finish its match.

A key 1A Olympic League tilt, it ground to a halt with four of seven varsity matches in the book and things tied 2-2.

Of the three remaining matches yet to be finished, CHS trailed at #2 singles, led at #3 doubles and was just starting #4 doubles.

The match will be completed Apr. 26 when Coupeville returns to Silverdale for the third and final match of the season with the Eagles.

For the moment, the Wolves (2-0 in league play, 3-5 overall) hold a game-and-a-half lead on Klahowya (0-1, 1-5) and Chimacum (0-1, 1-6) in the league standings as they chase a fourth-straight conference title.

Coupeville is scheduled to host Friday Harbor Wednesday (3:30 PM) in a non-conference match.

The biggest surprise? The weather forecast for Central Whidbey is for 56 degrees and … NO RAIN.

I’ll believe it when I see it…

 

Semi-complete Tuesday results:

Varsity:

1st Singles — Heather Nastali lost to Hailey Sargent 6-0, 6-0

2nd Singles — Nanci Melendrez trails Maddy Rienks 5-7, 6-4, 5-1

3rd Singles — Megan Behan lost to Anna Wells 6-2, 6-0

1st Doubles — Payton Aparicio/Sage Renninger beat Taylor Bruce/Marianne Maker 6-3, 7-5

2nd Doubles — Claire Mietus/Tia Wurzrainer beat Kelisha Harris/Kristin Powell 6-4, 7-6(7-1)

3rd Doubles — Jillian Mayne/Zara Bradley lead Emma Heckert/Mia Brill 2-0

4th Doubles — Maggie Crimmins/Genna Wright facing Rachelle Adams/Angelina Robinson (deuce in first game)

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   Maggie Crimmins and CHS tennis swept two league matches this week to claim control of first-place in the 1A Olympic League. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Let the jockeying begin.

In a week where many teams were beset by the never-ending rain, two of the four Olympic League races we’re tracking had changes at the top of the standings.

In baseball, Chimacum, which has never finished higher than third in the previous three seasons of the conference, jumped past Coupeville and into first-place.

A one-run win put the Cowboys a game up on the Wolves, but there’s still two-thirds of the league season to play — including two more bouts between these very two teams.

Over on the tennis courts, not a single league match had been played prior to this week.

That’s changed, and with back-to-back wins at the tail end of the week, the Coupeville netters staked a solid claim to being a favorite to win a fourth straight crown.

While softball (Coupeville) and boys soccer (Klahowya) didn’t change leaders, none of the races are anywhere close to being decided yet, ensuring several more weeks of excitement.

Maybe.

Softball, thanks to the unique challenges raised by Port Townsend and Chimacum abandoning their programs this season due to a lack of players, could be settled five days from now.

If CHS beats Klahowya Friday at home, the Wolves, with wins in the first two of three games the squads will play, will clinch their first softball title since 2002.

An Eagle upset (Coupeville won 15-1 Mar. 28 and weather has kept KSS sidelined since that day) and the championship would come down to an Apr. 30 meeting in Silverdale.

And, speaking of upsets, the most unexpected score came from the world of baseball, where Port Townsend shocked Klahowya 6-2 Friday.

The win snapped a 48-game losing skid for the RedHawks, who last won Apr. 9, 2015, and sent the Eagles, the defending champs, crashing into the cellar.

My, oh my.

Current standings through Apr. 15:

Olympic League baseball:

School League Overall
Chimacum 3-0 5-5
COUPEVILLE 2-1 7-4
Port Townsend 1-3 1-6
Klahowya 1-3 2-8

Olympic League boys soccer:

School League Overall
Klahowya 4-0 7-2-1
COUPEVILLE 3-1 4-4-2
Port Townsend 1-3 1-6-0
Chimacum 0-4 0-6-0

Olympic League girls tennis:

School League Overall
COUPEVILLE 2-0 3-5
Chimacum 0-1 1-6
Klahowya 0-1 1-5

Olympic League softball:

School League Overall
COUPEVILLE 1-0 7-3
Klahowya 0-1 5-2

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   Two freshmen, Coupeville’s Genna Wright (above) and Port Townsend’s Chiara Vignale, lost tough matches Friday. I have absolute faith in Wright bouncing back, and I hope Vignale is equally as strong. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Everyone wants to win, though not everyone gets to win.

If sports teach us anything, most of the lessons come from how we handle the losses. It’s there where we find our greatest strength.

Friday afternoon, as Coupeville played Chimacum in a girls tennis match, I saw two young women stung hard by coming up on the short end of the score.

Both were freshmen, one from the home team and one from the visitors, and they were reacting to far different losses.

One defeat came at the end of a long back-and-forth match, in a third-set tiebreaker, while the other loss came in straight sets.

The first young woman, Genna Wright, one of the brightest stars in Wolf Nation, had played a three-set match the day before, winning that one, and tiredness and frustration briefly bubbled over after she fell short by a mere shot or two.

It’s understandable, but, having watched her play through soccer and basketball seasons, I fully expect her to spring right back.

Genna has steel in her backbone, and while she rarely stops smiling, even while scrapping for rebounds or out-running defenders on the pitch, she can be a stone-cold killer.

I have complete faith in her, and her ability to bounce back.

Genna’s career sports arc is just getting started, and she will give her very-successful older siblings a run for their money. Of that I have no doubt.

The other young woman, Chiara Vignale, I don’t know. Hadn’t even seen her before yesterday.

Looking online, all I find is she’s a freshman at Port Townsend (the RedHawks don’t have a tennis program, so a handful of netters jump over and play with Chimacum) and she’s on the honor roll.

So, like Genna, she’s smart. Great place to start.

Chiara played third varsity singles Friday, falling 6-0, 6-0 to Coupeville senior Heather Nastali.

From the bits and pieces of conversation I picked up, it wasn’t clear if this was either her first singles match, her first varsity match, or her first match overall.

What was obvious afterward was she was hurting, not just from the loss but from the lopsided score.

“I didn’t think I would be this bad,” came through very clearly when she said it afterward to one of her teammates.

This is the moment, though, where I want to stop you, Miss Vignale.

To tell you that no, you were not bad.

You faced a seasoned opponent who is far more used to the winds that sweep across Coupeville’s courts, one who had a rooting section of her fellow classmates to spur her on.

Heather has earned her spot on the court, and she played strongly Friday. She deserved to win.

But you have nothing to be ashamed of, Chiara.

You did not take the easy way out. You continued to fight long past the point where a lot of players give up.

Down 5-0, 40-0 in the second set, you saved five match points. Five!

Those points came not on errors by your opponent, but on winning shots YOU hit, including one cross-court put-away that rivaled any hit by any player in yesterday’s match.

I know it’s hard to lose a match, but don’t lose faith in yourself, Chiara.

As a high school tennis player back in the olden days of the ’80s, and through many seasons as a writer, I have seen countless players and how they handle winning and losing.

I hope you take pride in yourself, Chiara, because you should be proud.

Proud that you didn’t take the easy way out. That you continued to fight for small, important victories even when you knew the war was over.

The more you play, the deeper your skills will go, and, I predict, the more wins you will capture.

Because you already have the most important component firmly in place, and that is your lion-sized heart.

Any coach, any fan base, would be happy to have you hefting your racket for them, Miss Vignale.

You may have lost a match Friday, but you exited a winner.

Please, never forget that and never give up. Ever.

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