Chargers, Tahoma stop Conks on consecutive days
On an afternoon when she didn’t get the outcome that she wanted, Ingrid Bakke did get the attitude from her players that she needed.
And for the Kentwood High girls tennis coach, that helped take at least some of the sting off of last Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Kentridge in a showdown match between two of the top teams in the South Puget Sound League North Division.
It was, in fact, a rough week for the defending division champion Conquerors. Just a day earlier, a Tahoma team that has surprised more than a few people with its 4-2 start pulled out a 3-2 decision, handing Kentwood its first loss of the season.
“To come back from yesterday, they showed what an amazing team they are, to come in and try to fight back,” Bakke said. “We had our opportunities, and that’s what you want.”
At 5-2, Kentwood is still in second place, just ahead of Tahoma (4-2). The Chargers took command of the division at 6-0. Each of the eight teams is behind at least one match on the schedule because of rainouts. The Kent schools and Tahoma will be idle in league play this week because of spring break.
Kentwood, which went 13-1 last year (its only loss coming to Kentridge) swept the two singles matches, both of which were of the back-and-forth, grind-it-out variety. Kendall Bielinski got past Sunita Venkatesh, 7-5 6-4; and Laura Araka defeated Vicky Tran, 7-5, 5-7, 12-10 (the last set was a 10-point super tiebreaker because the team outcome already had been decided.)
Kentridge easily won the Nos. 2 and 3 doubles matches. Reeti Diwan and Chelsey White beat Niki Skinner and Eliano Spero, 6-1, 6-3; while Jazmin AhYat and Kelsey Robson topped Korin Hedlund and Camille Madsen, 6-2, 6-1.
That brought it down to No. 1 doubles, in which Kentridge’s Anna McIntosh and Kim Quach staged a big rally to pull out a 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 victory against Breanna Esber and Alyssa Nagai.
Therein was one of the opportunities of which Bakke spoke. Esber and Nagai put together a streak of seven straight games that took them from 5-3 down to victory in the first set and a 3-0 lead in the second. But McIntosh and Quach came back, first forging a 4-4 tie, then, with the match on the line, breaking Esber’s serve to make it 5-5.
That started a five-game KR winning streak, helping the Charger duo close out the second set and take a 2-0 lead in the third. Esber and Nagai responded, with Nagai coming from love-30 down on her serve to win that game and make it 2-2 in the third.
McIntosh and Quach ran off the next four games, winning 16 of the final 19 points in the match.
“We needed to take our time. We were rushing the points so much,” Quach said.
Added Bakke, a state-caliber player during her days at Kent-Meridian and who still competes regularly, “I always say, when you’re the underdog and you’re ahead, there’s a point where you look up at the tennis gods and you read the script, and you don’t see your name there. That’s when you get in trouble.
“So,” added Bakke, “you can’ look up.”
Still, the Conquerors, who were missing varsity regulars Kelsey Hurter (ankle) and Grace Erickson (illness), had a shot at it.
“I think they played awesome today,” Bakke said. “I’m very happy (with their effort).”
ALSO: Kelly Lehigh won her fourth straight singles match, and Jessica Price helped make it a sweep of singles as Tahoma beat Kentwood last Wednesday, 3-2. Lehigh, who started the season 0-2, beat Laura Araki in the No. 1 match, 6-3, 6-2, and Price downed Eliano Spero, 7-5, 6-4. Tahoma’s other point was a three-set victory in No. 3 doubles, as Sierra Southworth and Maria Bahlenhorst defeated Niki Skinner and Camille Madsen, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. … Heidi Weaver and Julie Williams swept singles, and Kentlake also won No. 1 double with Annie Cavanaugh and Lexi Bolton to edge Kent-Meridian last Wednesday, 3-2.