Boys tennis season gets off to strong start

The boys’ tennis season got underway at the end of August. After a solid season last year and losing only one player, this team was expected to play well.

The first surprise of the season was the turnout. With 27 players, this was one of the larger turnouts in recent years. While it is always great to see growing enthusiasm for the sport, large numbers can make coaching and court time a challenge at times. For that reason, several schools in our league cut their teams at 16. However, three weeks into the season, the large team has not been a problem, and practices have been productive and gone smoothly. The Pirates have an experienced team, with nine seniors returning and several sophomores and juniors playing key roles for the team. With a nice influx of new players, this team has a varied mix of players and great team chemistry.

After two weeks of practice, the beginning of match play was a welcome change of routine. The Pirates opened the season at home against Life Christian Academy (LCA). A new addition to the Nisqually League, Life Christian is a young team led by their two singles players, one of whom placed well in the State 3A tournament last year.

At No. 1 singles, Vashon’s Towner Anderson got off to a great start with a 6-0, 6-1 win. His teammate, Hank Rodgers, followed that up with a strong 6-0, 6-1 win over a solid No. 2 singles player for LCA. In doubles, the Pirates took advantage of their edge in experience and improved serving to sweep the LCA doubles teams. At No. 1 doubles, JJ Bogaard/Marley Kott won 6-0, 6-0. Number 2, Zach Van Dusen/Evan Keppler also took a 6-0, 6-0 victory, and the Pirates No. 3 team of Alex Hitchcock/John Maciejewski completed the sweep 6-1,6-0. LCA brought a very small team, but many of their players stayed after the match, and the JV Pirates got some unexpected and valuable playing time.

Next up for Pirates was an away match at Charles Wright Academy (CWA). Always a strong team, CWA was the only team to beat the Pirates last year and has long been their nemesis. No. 1 singles featured two players who had gone to State last year. Anderson continued his strong play and took an impressive 6-1, 6-2 win. At No. 2 singles, Rodgers faced CWA ‘s other returning State player, who had been a thorn in Vashon’s side all of last season. Rodgers showed his improved game and patience and pulled away for a solid 6-3, 6-3 win. At No. 1 doubles, Bogaard and Cameron Bedard played a strong consistent match, taking a 6-2, 6-4 win. Vashon’s No. 1 doubles, Van Dusen/Keppler kept the streak going with a solid 6-2, 6-1 victory. At No. 3 doubles, Kott teamed with Kincaid Cummings in his first varsity match. Both played well, but CWA’s experience proved the difference as the Pirates dropped a close two-set match. Overall, the team looked strong for this point in the season and came away with a 4-1 win.

The comfortable 2-0 start puts the Pirates as early-season leaders in the Nisqually League. The team has two home matches this week: Cascade Christian Schools on Tuesday, after press time, and Annie Wright Schools on Thursday. After completing those matches, the team will have played all their Nisqually rivals and will have a pretty good sense of where they fit in the league.

— Pat Mulvihill is the assistant girls’ tennis coach for Vashon High School.

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