Sports

Cougar tennis doubles its fun

Central Kitsap’s Katherine Sugimoto, shown here returning a serve in a first-round match against a Puyallup doubles team Friday, combined with Sachi Sugimoto (unrelated) to win the district crown. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Central Kitsap’s Katherine Sugimoto, shown here returning a serve in a first-round match against a Puyallup doubles team Friday, combined with Sachi Sugimoto (unrelated) to win the district crown.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

TACOMA — While most teams prefer to not defeat themselves, Central Kitsap’s girls tennis team couldn’t avoid it.

Cougars coach Ken Allen, teammates and parents alike found themselves simply rooting for CK in the 4A West Central District III girls doubles championship match Saturday. But who could blame them: There was no way to lose.

CK’s Sachi and Katherine Sugimoto (unrelated) defeated teammates Aimee Rozier and Corinne Wurden for the district title and the top seed into the state tournament in a grueling 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3 match that lasted approximately two-and-a-half hours.

“I think they feel that, they feel a sense of pride,” Allen said. “We are a team and the final is CK versus CK. We had a great year.”

It wasn’t the first time the dynamic doubles duos have faced one another outside of practice. In the Narrows League tournament, Wurden and Rozier upended their teammates to eventually take that crown. But since the teams met prior to the finals, Allen was relieved.

“This is definitely a better situation than at the league tournament,” he said. “If you’re gonna have two teams in, you definitely don’t want it before the final. But first and second is a great outcome. If you get first and second, you can’t do any better than that.”

Since the match happened in the finals, all four players were relieved to know they’d all be traveling to state together regardless.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” Sachi Sugimoto said. “It was an amazing match. I’m just happy we qualified for state.”

“It’s just a really fun match to have,” Rozier added. “And we’re all going to state anyway.”

Katherine Sugimoto had a slightly different view of the match however.

“I think that was the longest doubles match of my life,” she laughed.

But aside, she too was just happy to be moving forward.

“Last year we lost going to state by literally two points,” Katherine Sugimoto said. “We just wanted to go to state.”

Allen said it’s the first time he’s had two teams of the foursome’s quality.

“I haven’t had that,” he said. “CK’s been lucky this year to have so many talented players come in. They’re dedicated kids and they’re dedicated to the sport. For any high school that’s not private, it’s rare you get talent in a big bubble like this all in one spot.”

In singles action, Aya Sugimoto made it to the championship match as well, facing another repeat foe in Gig Harbor’s phenom freshman, Christy Sipes.

While Sipes had to injury default to Sugimoto with the players tied at 2-2 in the Narrows League championship match, Sipes appeared just fine on Saturday, taking the win 6-0, 6-0.

“It was great,” Allen said of Aya’s tourney. “Christy is such an absolute powerhouse. To do that shows how strong she is. But Aya’s tough. Until she faced Christy, she was taking control of people.”

Aya Sugimoto said she came in to districts this year just focusing on fun. She said she made a number of improvements to her game this year that helped.

“Yeah. I was just thinking, ‘Have a fun year (at districts) and have a lot more patience; a lot more focus.’ (I’ve been working on) placing the ball with consistency. And a lot more variety to the kinds of balls I hit. It’s very different than how I played last year.”

With Sachi and Aya being sisters, Aya said she was torn who to root for in the doubles final.

“I’m just nervous for all of them,” Aya said. “I want them both to win.”

She said the doubles team and her appearance in the finals should show everyone CK is a team to be reckoned with.

“It feels really good showing how good a team we are,” she said. “And how good individually we are.”

As for his No. 1 doubles squad, Allen said the Sugimotos will bring a strong sense of teamwork into state.

“They’re pretty good at looking forward,” he said. “They’re a confident team. They work well together. They know each other well. They have high expectations for themselves, but at the same time, they’re good at keeping each other in check.”

As for Wurden and Rozier, Allen said just because they’re freshman doesn’t mean they’re short on experience, as both play club tennis.

“They’ve played tournaments, big tournaments,” Allen said. “They know what it’s like to have some pressure on themselves.”

Nicole Morrison also was at state for CK, falling in the first round to Sara Lin of Decatur in a narrow 7-5, 3-6, 5-7 loss. She rebounded to a 6-3, 6-0 win against Seulgee So of Spanaway Lake, but fell to Judy Liening of Beamer in 6-1 straight sets.

“She had a great year,” Allen said. “I’m very pleased with her. It’s a tough league to make it out of and she made it out. Then again, it’s an even tougher district. Her goals will be set even higher next year.”

In fact, with the exception of seniors Kai Fritchman and Jenae Spader, the entire squad will be back in force, a group that includes all its district qualifiers.

“I’m definitely proud of all the girls,” Allen said. “I really applaud all the hard work the kids do in the offseason.”

With state next, beginning this Friday at Vancouver (Wash.) Tennis Center, Wurden summed up how all CK’s tennis players felt.

“I hope we do well at state,” she said. “That’s all I really care about.”

Klahowya

The Eagles advanced boys singles player Chris Zumdieck to state this week, as the 2A state championships take place this weekend at the Yakima Tennis Center.

Fellow boys singles player Kyle Spoon and girls singles entry Shelby Hunter were both ousted at districts. Check Saturday’s edition for complete 2A district results.

Olympic

While the Trojans didn’t advance past the Olympic League, with the exception of boys singles player Justin Hike, coach Don Patraw said the girls team vastly improved, considering some of his players had never even held a tennis racket before.

“We had players on the varsity who had never played tennis before and even had to borrow rackets to start the year, but they played with enthusiasm throughout the year,” Patraw said. “It’s easy to have enthusiasm when you’re winning, but to have the kind of team we had when we could have been down, that’s a winning attitude any coach will take.”

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