The Vashon tennis team started post-season play on Thursday, Oct. 18, with the Nisqually League Tournament. The tournament was held indoors at the new Galbraith Center in Tacoma, which turned out to be an excellent place to play.
The Pirates sent their two best singles players and two best doubles teams, with the goal of qualifying for the District tournament with as high a seed as possible.
In singles, Towner Anderson was injured and under the weather but managed to win his first two matches to make the final. In the final against Charles Wright, his injuries caught up to him, and he was forced to retire about halfway through his match. Anderson finished in second place for the day. Hank Rogers had a tough draw to start the tournament. He got a nice win in the first round, losing his second round match to Charles Wright, the eventual champion. He then won another round to finish in third place. This was an impressive effort as both wins were convincing and over players he had lost to during the season.
In doubles, Mason Rice and JJ Bogaard had been a top team all year while Cameron Bedard and Zach Van Dusen seemed to be finding their game just at the right time. Both teams won their first round matches, but then dropped close hard fought decisions to the two Charles Wright teams. The two Pirate teams then had to face each other for a third and fourth place with Bedard/VanDusen pulling off a come-from-behind win in a tiebreaker. All the Vashon players advanced to Districts and were clearly competitive with the players that finished above them.
Districts were held on Oct. 24 and 25 at Sprinker. It was rainy and only the indoor courts were used. The Pirates won all their first-round matches. Rice/Bogaard had a lower seed and had to face Klahowya, the Olympic League’s best doubles team. This was the toughest first-round matchup, but they were more than ready and came away with an impressive straight sets win. Also getting first-round wins were Rogers, Anderson, and Bedard/van Dusen. This set up some difficult matches for the next round, but it was impressive that Vashon was through to all of the semifinals.
In singles, Rogers played the #1 seed and multi-time league and District champion and a constant contender at State from Charles Wright. Despite playing very well, he lost in two sets. After dropping the first set to Charles Wright’s number two player, Rogers went on to win his next round match He then lost to Taylor Fite, a strong player from Klahowya, who was the second seed for the tournament. Rogers finished in fourth place and played an excellent tournament against tough players every round. In round two, Anderson delivered the upset of the day, defeating Klahowya’s Fite, who has been a perennial league champion and gone to State three years in a row. This knocked Fite into the losers’ bracket, where he went on to defeat Rogers. Anderson lost in the final to Charles Wrights top player and the top seed.
In doubles, Bedard /van Dusen played an excellent match but lost to last years champion, Charles Wright’s number one doubles team. The team suffered a little let down in the next match and dropped a two-set decision to Klahowya’s top doubles team. In the other semifinal, Rice/Bogaard faced the Charles Wright team, which had beaten them at league. Again the match was hard fought and tight, but this time the Pirates kept the upper hand and took a close straight sets win. This put them into the final against the Charles Wright top team. These teams had also played close matches all year, and this was no exception but the Pirates came up a bit short to the repeating District champions.
This is where things went a bit wrong for the Pirates. In years past, the tournament would have been over. Anderson and Rice/Bogaard, by virtue of their loss in the finals, would have secured second place (usually good for a trip to state) and would not have to play a team they had already beaten. However, this year the rules were changed to allow losers to come through the losers bracket and play the loser of the tournament final. Unfortunately for us, Charles Wrights #2 doubles team came through the losers bracket and were allowed to play Rice/Bogaard a second time that day. All their prior matches had been tight nerve-wracking affairs and this was no exception; CW won the first set, and the Pirates made a thrilling comeback to take the second set in a tiebreaker. The two teams then played a ten point tiebreaker for the match and second place, which was won by Charles Wright.
In singles, Klahowyas Taylor Fite also used the rule change to his advantage, coming through the losers bracket to set up a rematch with Towner Anderson. However, Fite did not want to play a fourth match that day, so their playoff for second place will be sometime next week.
There is no doubt the rule change was not good for the Pirates and I suspect it will change back next year. However, on the whole, the Pirates team was awesome in the postseason they fought hard and were competitive in every match. Their sportsmanship was great. They were only beaten by other excellent teams and ended up in second place as a team. Despite some bad luck, their level of play was really excellent and it was great to see them finish a strong year with a really well-played tournament.
— Pat Mulvihill, VHS tennis coach