Prep girls tennis: W.F. West caps emotional year with perfect dual record


As Megan Wellander pondered on whether to take the leap or not, one continuous thought kept coming back.

If there was someone to take over for a legend and lead the W.F. West High School girls tennis team, it would be her.

“I know this is what he would have wanted,” Wellander said. “I have the unique ability to carry him on. He was the person who taught me how to play tennis; my values and his values are the same.”

In what has been a season still filled with sadness over the passing of longtime coach Jack State, the Bearcats rallied and finished off a perfect 10-0 dual record against Evergreen Conference foes with a 4-2 victory over Centralia on Wednesday night in Centralia.

Wellander herself didn’t know what to expect when she took over. And now, she’s the owner of an unblemished regular season in her first year at the helm.

“Truly, the girls have made this season fun,” Wellander said. “It was a successful season.”

State died in January at the age of 80. He just finished his 50th season coaching the boys team and was ready to embark on his 48th year coaching girls.

Junior Lilly Hueffed admitted his passing still hasn’t fully sunk in yet.

“I was glad I got to be one of his players for two years,” she added. “It was a bit of a surprise.”

Wellander, a graduate of W.F. West, who played college tennis at George Fox University, was assisting State for a month of the boys season and was going to full-time assist him this spring.

A couple weeks after his death and in conversations with administration, she was tabbed as the new head coach. At the Bearcats’ first team meeting, players thought Wellander was one of them.

“Yeah, no, I’m a coach,” Wellander recalled.

She laid out the expectations and goals for W.F. West. She implemented fitness training, having her girls run laps before every meet.

That was one of many new things Wellander did compared to State.

“I want you to be in shape,” she said. “As the season has gone on, they’re like ‘We get it.’”

Eventually, a junior-heavy group of Bearcats snared the trust of their new coach and vice versa. Add in the relatability factor and it has turned into a harmonious team.

“She really wants to win, she’s competitive and she’s good at bringing that energy,” Hueffed said. “She’s good at honoring State and carrying on what he all hoped for us to achieve, but pushes us to work as hard as we can.”

Hueffed and Katelyn Wood continued their winning ways at No. 1 doubles, dispatching Sophia Wiley and Aydan Butler 6-4, 6-0.

The Bearcats swept the three doubles matches and Alyana Leal, up to No. 2 singles for the day, won a thriller over Esther Hopkins 6-1, 7-5.

“We wanted to work really hard this season,” Hueffed said. “I remember, as a freshman, State saying we have a lot of potential. I wasn’t expecting to be first in the league, but I knew we had a really good chance.”

Centralia’s Maya Lackie claimed a thriller at No. 1 singles, defeating Emma Hamilton 6-7 (6-8), 6-2, 6-1. It was a night-and-day difference after both girls didn’t give an inch in the opening set tiebreaker.

Lackie dominated the final two sets and never looked back. The southpaw overcame some unforced errors at times to deliver plenty of winners and broke Hamilton’s serve multiple times. 

“She got a little focused,” Tigers head coach Scott Snyder said. “One point at a time, just grind it out. That’s all you can do.”

Eliyah Rooklidge claimed a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 3 singles for Centralia (4-4-1 EvCo).

Monday kicks off the sub-district tournament that will be held at Black Hills and Tumwater over the course of three days. Districts are the following week in Vancouver.

For W.F. West, the train momentum hasn’t slowed down yet and no one is expecting it to now.

“We just need to stay focused and continue to be aggressive,” Wellander said. “If (State) was here, he'd be proud of the girls and proud of me.”


First: Maya Lackie (Centralia) def. Emma Hamilton 6-7 (6-8), 6-2, 6-1

Second: Alyana Leal (W.F. West) def. Esther Hopkins 6-1, 7-5

Third: Eliyah Rooklidge (Centralia) def. Jaelynn Fuentes 6-2, 6-3


First: Katelyn Wood/Lilly Hueffed (W.F. West) def. Sophia Wiley/Aydan Butler 6-4, 6-0

Second: Ema Weerasinghe/Ellie Mittge (W.F. West) def. Brook Frakes/Neela Haywood 6-0, 6-0

Third: Emery Dalrymple/Manta Ceesay (W.F. West) def. Suki Bringman/Saryn Pelesky 6-3, 6-3