Posts Tagged ‘Tia Wurzrainer’

Coupeville gunner Mollie Bailey lofts a shot near the end of the 2019-2020 basketball season. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Wolves (left to right) Hannah Davidson, Tia Wurzrainer, Avalon Renninger, and Scout Smith join coach Scott Fox on Senior Night.

You never know.

A year ago today, the Coupeville High School girls basketball team was eliminated from the playoffs, KO’d by a barrage of three-balls off of the fingertips of hot-shooting Meridian players.

As the players and fans departed the CHS gym, until just Wolf coach Scott Fox was left standing in the half-darkened building, it seemed to be a time of transition.

February 11, 2020, said the calendar.

Winter sports were done, with the Coupeville boys hoops team having been similarly knocked out of the postseason a few days before.

It was the end of the road for Wolf seniors Scout Smith, Hannah Davidson, Tia Wurzrainer, and Avalon Renninger — a group which had played together since middle school.

“We fought really hard,” Fox said in the half-light. “Our seniors played their hearts out. They were our backbone and our leaders. I couldn’t be more proud of those girls.”

But, even as basketball faded from sight, the promise of spring sports helped pick up the mood.

Wurzrainer, who had celebrated her birthday that night, earning a huge roar from the crowd with a late-game bucket, was set to join Renninger for a final season of tennis.

Smith would return to the diamond, where CHS was primed to make a run at a second-straight trip to state.

There was even a chance Davidson, who had played softball in little league, might be talked into joining her for one last fling.

The Wolves needed a first-baseman, and she fit the bill — if Scooter could pull off the sweet-talk.

One season ends, another lurks on the horizon. It has been ever so.

As I left the gym, walking across the parking lot on a crisp evening, I coughed a couple of times.

Something I had done for much of the winter, as flu and cold season mixed with sitting crammed into gyms with other Wolf fans — a perfect breeding ground for my annual rite of “gym cough.”

There had been a few news articles about a new virus building in a place called Wuhan, but on Feb. 11, 2020, that was less than an afterthought.

Sports roll on, as they always have, and always will, and going outside to freeze during spring sports would ease the tickle in the back of my throat.

It was ever so … and then it wasn’t.

Very few people alive in the world the night of Feb. 11, 2020 were also alive when the Spanish Flu did its dirty work, so COVID-19 is a new experience for most of us.

The thought which was never present — that a girls basketball playoff loss to Meridian would be the final live high school sports event in Coupeville for a year — came at us fast.

The virus erupted.

Schools closed.

Spring sports vanished without being played.

There were a handful of middle school basketball games played after Feb. 11, before the CMS hoops season was also shut down, but high school sports ended that night.

And now, here we are on Feb. 11, 2021, and they haven’t returned. At least in Coupeville.

There have been some practices, as the COVID rules have shifted over the months, but no seasons, no games, no return to play.

Plans are in place for CHS and its partners in the Northwest 2B/1B League to restart Feb. 22 — just a week and a half from now — with spring sports first up.

Whether that happens depends on a number of factors, including whether Island County continues to get shafted by being lumped together with Whatcom County under Governor Jay Inslee’s new regional reopening system.

In a best-case scenario, a Coupeville High School sports team will compete against a rival at some point this month, whether it’s Wolf baseball, softball, girls tennis, or track and field which draws the first game on a schedule which hasn’t been made public yet.

Worst-case scenario, things drag on, and we lose the entire 2020-2021 school athletic year, tacked on to the loss of spring 2020 sports.

I have no clue, and neither do you.

Unless you’re a NWL Athletic Director like Coupeville’s Willie Smith, to pretend otherwise is pointless.

But at least we know both options, best-case and worst-case, are possibilities, as well as some middle compromise.

Which makes it somewhat easier to deal with. Sort of.

The night of Feb. 11, 2020, we left the gym, headed to our vehicles, wrapped in blissful ignorance.

It was just another game. The end of one season, and the start of another.

Until it wasn’t.

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Tia Wurzrainer: three sports, 1000% effort. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Numbers don’t always tell the full story.

And that’s why, to fully appreciate what Tia Wurzrainer brought to Coupeville High School athletics the past four years, you needed to see her play in person.

From a distance, she didn’t score a staggering amount of goals on the soccer field, and didn’t net a record-busting number of baskets on the hardwood.

But watch Tia play in person, whether it was soccer, basketball, or tennis season, and you would quickly gain an appreciation of why she was so valued by coaches, and so beloved by her teammates.

The young girl who once sat quietly eating her sandwich back in a corner at her family’s restaurant, Christopher’s on Whidbey, emerged as one of the hardest-working, far-tougher-than-expected athletes to ever pull on a Wolf jersey.

Tia did the dirty work, and then asked for more, always with a smile.

On the soccer field, she sacrificed her body game after game, a defender who seemingly feared no scoring ace, and wasn’t gonna take no crap from no one, no matter how fancy the rival school might be.

She protected her side of the field with a burning intensity, slamming into frays, chasing down breakaways, fighting for every 50/50 ball, making life considerably easier for the CHS goalkeepers who camped out behind her.

Give her a chance to score, and she could, but Tia made her name holding down the backline, where she netted All-Conference honors and earned mad respect from anyone foolish enough to challenge her.

As fall faded into winter, she would move from the pitch to the basketball court, but her persona as a quietly tough-as-nails roustabout never changed.

Tia slices to the hoop for a bucket in a big win over arch-rival South Whidbey.

The kind of “glue” player every coach needs, she was that rare teen athlete who not only accepted her role, but openly embraced it.

Need a lock-down defender?

A hustler and a scrapper?

A pass-first player who could help keep her team flowing under big-time pressure?

A staunch supporter of each and every one of her teammates?

Tia was the answer for all those needs, and she always seemed to play with the same intensity and effort regardless of whether she was starting or coming off the bench.

Proving she was a true three-sport star, she never skipped a season, joining Avalon Renninger to form a deadly doubles duo on the tennis court each spring.

Always a deadly assassin on the tennis court.

The pair meshed almost flawlessly, both in playing style, and with the grace and drive they exhibited match after match.

Team leaders, captains, and stellar competitors, the duo were on the fast track to make it to the state tourney, only to see their senior season derailed by COVID-19.

While Tia and Avalon didn’t get the chance to make a run at glory in Eastern Washington, that shouldn’t detract in the slightest from what they accomplished when given a chance to play.

While reflecting on their net careers, CHS tennis guru Ken Stange marveled at what Wurzrainer had brought to his program.

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.”

Some athletes get a chance to put up big numbers, making it easy for people in far-off states or other countries to have at least a loose idea of what they accomplished.

But it’s those like Tia, the ones you need to be camped out in the bleachers, or on the bench, or out there on the floor with her, to really appreciate, who make an impact which can’t be matched.

If you know, you know.

And, if you don’t know, you really, truly missed out.

Today, we swing open the doors at the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame and welcome Tia to our hallowed digital hideaway, where she is reunited with Avalon, her tennis doubles partner.

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

All in all, a very appropriate choice of words to describe two of the best, as athletes and as people, to ever emerge from Coupeville.

Wurzrainer and Renninger? They were kind of a big deal.

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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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Ella Colwell launches a free throw. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Tia Wurzrainer rolls to the hoop for a quick bucket.

Carolyn Lhamon (left) and Nezi Keiper enjoy each other’s company.

Mica Shipley soars to the heavens.

Jessenia Camarena snags another rebound.

Emma Mathusek classes up the joint.

Scout Smith looks for an opening in the defense.

CHS ballhawks Gwen Gustafson (3) and Ryanne Knoblich make life uncomfortable for a rival player.

A little offense, a little defense, a lot of photos.

The Coupeville High School girls basketball squads rolled to varsity and JV wins Tuesday against visiting South Whidbey, and the action was busy on and off the floor.

Wanderin’ paparazzi John Fisken stayed busy clickin’ away, and the pics above are courtesy him.

To see everything he snapped, and possibly purchase some glossy pics to put on the mantle, pop over to:


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CHS senior Tia Wurzrainer plays for the #17 girls basketball team in 1A. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The basketball overlords like us, sort of.

With the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association now posting RPI numbers, the Coupeville High School girls basketball team is trending upwards.

The Wolf boys, however, are still looking for their fair share of love.

As of Monday morning, the CHS girls sit at #17 out of 65 schools in 1A, while the boys are #57 among 63 teams.

RPI, or Rating Percentage Index, is used by the WIAA to seed teams in the postseason, beginning when the final 16 teams in each classification advance to regionals – the first round of the state tourney.

You still have to make it to regionals on your own, advancing through districts and/or bi-districts, and finishing the regular season in the top 16 in the RPI rankings guarantees nothing.

But, advance to regionals, as the Wolf girls last did in 2016, and then the WIAA takes the survivors and plugs them into games based on where the system has them ranked.

Until we get to that level of play, RPI is just for bragging rights.

The system looks at each team’s winning percentage, their opponents winning percentage, and their opponents’ opponents winning percentage.

It does not take into consideration whether a school played against opponents from higher or lower classifications, and puts no emphasis on point differential.

The biggest stumbling block to RPI is it depends on schools accurately reporting scores to MaxPreps, which … think of something tactful to say … has been … problematic at best.

But ignore all that! Cause the WIAA would like you to do just that.

So, under this flawed, but improving, system, the Coupeville girls, who boast a 6-2 record, are holding up well.

Cashmere (9-0) holds the #1 spot on the girls side, with Warden (9-0), Lynden Christian (8-1), Connell (8-0), and Freeman (7-2) rounding out the current top five.

Coupeville’s fellow North Sound Conference teams sit at #7 (King’s), #19 (Cedar Park Christian), #49 (Sultan), #50 (South Whidbey), and #58 (Granite Falls).

Nooksack Valley, the only 1A school to beat the Wolves (their other loss was to 3A Oak Harbor), is nestled in at #8.

On the boys side, where the Wolves are 3-5, big-timers Seattle Academy (8-1), Medical Lake (8-1), Zillah (10-0), Meridian (7-1), and Cashmere (5-2) are the current top five.

NSC teams King’s (#23), South Whidbey (#25), Cedar Park Christian (#28), Granite Falls (#51), and Sultan (#58) get a mixed reaction.

The Knights benefit a bit from the whole “inaccurate reporting to MaxPreps” issue, as they’re currently ranked on a 5-5 record, yet are really 5-7.

Add in those two losses, which came at a tournament in Arizona, and it’s quite possible King’s dips, and South Whidbey, at 8-2, gets a boost.

Either way, it’s just RPI – a good way to start an argument and give bloggers something to ramble on about, if nothing else.

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