Kentwood tandem delivers solid third-place showing

Kendall Bielinski and Kelsey Hurter were convinced they could be a solid doubles team.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Monday, June 2, 2008 12:17pm
  • Sports

Kendall Bielinski and Kelsey Hurter were convinced they could be a solid doubles team.

Last weekend, the two Kentwood High seniors convinced their coach, too.

Bielinski and Hurter made it all the way to the North Division finals of the South Puget Sound League girls tennis tournament, gave defending champions Anna McIntosh and Chelsey White of Kentridge a hard-fought run for it before going down, then bounced back to take third place overall in action at Sprinker Recreation Center in Spanaway.

“I love playing doubles,” said Bielinski, who went to the North Division singles finals last year and advanced to district. “But I’ve never had a partner. I feel like we’ve come together so well.”

“We’re both seniors, and we wanted to make it as far as we could,” Hurter added.

They’ll head to this week’s Class 4A West Central District tournament as the No. 3 seed out of the SPSL. District play begins today, continues on Friday, and concludes Saturday. The top six finishers in each event – boys and girls singles, and boys and girls doubles – qualify for state, which is set for Memorial Day Friday and Saturday down in Vancouver.

“I wasn’t hesitant (about pairing them up),” Kentwood coach Ingrid Bakke said. “But I wanted to make sure that if they decided to it that there were no second thoughts. Kendall has always been good at doubles.”

Bielinski and Hurter played three times during the regular season, winning all three. They went through their first three matches of the league tournament in straight sets before coming across the net from McIntosh and White.

The Chargers tandem went on to win, 6-4, 6-3, in a lengthy, well-played match. Bielinski and Hurter fell into a 5-1 first-set hole and came all the way back to 5-4, fighting off two set points in the process.

Kentridge won a marathon 13-minute, seven-deuce game to start the second set and eventually went up 2-0. The two Conquerors got back to 2-all, but then fell behind, 5-2. They got one more game, staving off a match point, before White served it out.

But they came back a short while later to defeat Beamer’s Esther Song and Melissa Canfield for third place, 6-2, 6-1.

“We really didn’t know what to expect,” Hurter said. “This was my goal was to make it to district.”

Bielinski likes their chances, especially after they hung tough against McIntosh and White.

“They’re the strongest team in our league,” Bielinski said. “My mom and I were looking at last year’s bracket, and about half of the teams graduated.”

Bakke said that while there’s always room to get better, she liked much of what she saw.

“I think what was really important was that they got on really well and they both really helped each other,” she said. “When they were struggling (against KR), they managed to fight really hard and make a match out of it. That shows a lot of character. And after they lost, they were still able to go out and take care of business (against Beamer).”

• ALSO: Bielinski and Hurter won’t be the only Conquerors playing at district. Laura Araki earned the No. 8 seed in singles, while Breanna Esber and Alyssa Nagai took No. 4 in doubles. … Kentlake’s Heidi Weaver and Julie Williams will go as the No. 8 SPSL doubles seed. The Falcons had five points to tie with Federal Way for 13th in the team standings. … No one from Tahoma made the district cut. The Bears tied with Curtis for 11th in the team standings with six points. … Kentwood finished third in the team standings with 23 points. Kentridge won with 37, and Decatur was next with 27. … Decatur freshman Meghan Cassens cruised to the North Division singles title, 6-1, 6-0 against Kentridge’s Kim Quach. Cassens then blitzed South Division champion Lauren Storm of Rogers in the league final, 6-0, 6-0.

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