Prep girls tennis: Upsets galore headline EvCo sub-district tourney


TUMWATER – Three separate matches, including one between two doubles teams from the same school, called for a line judge. Unseeded singles players went on a run to keep playing tennis for at least one more week.

Chaos was paramount on Wednesday afternoon at Black Hills High School.

“It was a crazy day,” W.F. West head coach Megan Wellander said. “It was a lot of emotions for a lot of people.”

Welcome to the postseason.

The Bearcats paced the area contingent with four total district qualifiers out of the Class 2A Evergreen Conference sub-district tournament. Tumwater went 1-2 in singles and will have a doubles team plus Centralia also sent a doubles tandem through.

Districts is set for next week in Vancouver.

“Coach (Jack) State is definitely watching out for us on the court and pushing some balls that shouldn't go in, but they do,” W.F. West’s Ema Weerasinghe said. “They know to keep his legacy.”

Alyana Leal pulled off what Wellander called “The Upset of the Century” for the Bearcats when she triumphed past third-seeded Kallie Knutson of Aberdeen 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

It wasn’t a slight against Leal, rather a kudos to Knutson. Even Leal was surprised with how well she played.

“It was a hard match, but it was super good,” Leal said. “This is my chance to go to districts. I was questioning myself, because I was like ‘This girl is a little bit better than me.’ If I put all my confidence in, I could have the opportunity to be here.”

It took coming through the consolation side to secure a top-four finish. Leal beat Centralia’s fourth-seeded Maya Lackie in straight sets to face Knutson. Up 5-2 and trying to close out the win, Leal and Knutson battled through several deuce games that featured back-and-forth unforced errors.

Leal grabbed the advantage and a Knutson error secured the win.

“From the beginning, I just had to lock in,” Leal said.

The singles champion was also unseeded.

Tumwater’s Chloe Henderson recorded a 6-3, 6-3 victory over teammate Kendall Gjurasic in the finals. It capped a run by Henderson that featured a three-set thriller over Emma Hamilton of W.F. West in Tuesday’s semifinals.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen, but I am very happy,” Henderson said. “It was a lot of adrenaline. I thought maybe I could get to districts, but I didn’t think I was going to win.”

The tall right-hander was at No. 3 doubles in the T-Birds lineup last season. Henderson constantly brought up being more consistent as the area she improved the most.

She beat three of the four seeded players in the bracket.

“Just keep hitting it over the net,” Henderson said.

“She’s just a really good athlete and because of that, she was able to pick up skills in the offseason just by thinking about tennis,” Tumwater head coach Jim Click added. “She was starting to be able to drive the ball and get points more on offense.”

Kayla Pope and Adela Schmiedeberg of Tumwater qualified for districts and will face Sophia Wiley and Aydan Butler of Centralia for third place on Thursday at Black Hills.

Wiley and Butler won 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 to place in the top-four. They were up 5-2 before the Thunderbirds’ Ashlyn Spencer and Rosie Uhlmeyer made it 5-4 at the change.

On return, Wiley and Butler broke them.

“Closing out a match is the hardest thing,” Tigers head coach Scott Snyder said. “They dug down deep.”

It was an all-W.F. West doubles final and its No. 2 team all season long of Weerasinghe and Ellie Mittge beat teammates Lilly Hueffed and Katelyn Wood 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3.

Weerasinghe and Mittge played doubles last spring, but with different partners. They teamed up this year and immediately knew it would work.

“We communicated in our heads somehow,” Weerasinghe said. “We knew when to switch and I never saw Ellie put on a sad face.”

Hueffed and Wood rallied in the second set to force, then win the tiebreak. Weerasinghe and Mittge didn’t let the moment get too big.

They settled in with some tactical changes to preserve the win.

“We pulled ourselves together,” Mittge said. “We started poaching more at the net and trying to get those easy shots.”

Wellander was pleased with both sides' performances all together, minus some unforced errors that were constant.

“They were focused and driven,” she said.

Hamilton rebounded to take third with a straight set win over teammate Viviana Ibanez to claim her spot at districts.