When the girls tennis season started a month ago, the Tahoma Bears barely registered even a blip on the radar screen of most coaches.
But as they get into the second half of the South Puget Sound League North Division schedule, no one regards the Bears as a breather on the schedule. Not after they logged four wins in their first six matches, including a 3-2 victory against defending division champion Kentwood on April 2.
“No one ever mentions Tahoma,” said junior Kelly Lehigh, who had forged a four-match winning streak before bumping into district veterans Sara Lin of Decatur and Kim Quach of Kentridge earlier this week. “We knew we could do well – we just didn’t know if we could reach our potential.”
Last year, Lehigh advanced to West Central District, and both she and second-year coach Randy Sias see no reason why she can’t get back there again.
“I’m just smarter about (the game) now,” said Lehigh, whose district trip was brief last year as she lost to eventual champion Christy Sipes of Gig Harbor in the first round, then was eliminated by Kentridge’s Jazmin AhYat. “I also hit it harder.”
Added Sias, “If she gets a good draw, she can wind up at district. And I think she’s going to get a decent draw. She definitely has worked on her serve, her footwork is a little better – and she is unbelievably consistent. She’s like hitting to a wall. You think she’s not going to get to a ball, and she gets to the ball.”
The Bears have two more weeks of regular-season play left before tournament time arrives. Sias certainly likes what he has seen so far, although this past week got off to a rugged start as the Bears (4-4) fell to Decatur on Tuesday, 3-2, and came up short against Kentridge on Wednesday, 4-1.
“It was a tough loss (to Decatur), but they’re playing great,” Sias said. “This is the best I’ve seen them play in quite a while. I did expect them to play better this year, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.”
Ditto for Jessica Price, a junior who switched from doubles to singles this spring and has put together a 4-3 record in the No. 2 spot.
“We knew we had the potential. I was just hoping it would come together,” Price said. “We’ve had a really good season, and it seems like we get better every year.”