CK, Oly getting into learning groove

When the Narrows League Invitational tennis tournament started Saturday morning, some hanging clouds seemed destined to deter the efforts of organizers. But as the day, and the matches, wore on rain seemed less likely.

So go figure, the rain would start pouring just as the final No. 1 singles match between South Kitsap’s Charlotte Duren and Gig Harbor’s Laura Finley got under way.

“It was an absolute opening of the sky,” Olympic coach and tourney organizer Don Patraw said. “We had just started the final round. It started with a little bit of rain, I looked up and said, ‘We’re done.’”

But aside from the derailed finale (Finley and Duren were awarded a draw), things were looking good for the Central Kitsap and Oly girls tennis teams despite their respective sixth and seventh place finishes in the tourney of eight.

“I thought it went really well,” Patraw said. “The kids gain a lot of experience that wouldn’t normally play in a tournament.”

That sentiment echoed throughout the day for CK and Oly’s young squads, showing strong flurries of talent against generally more experienced opponents.

Overall, Gig Harbor edged Enumclaw 39-37 for the team title, with SK in third with 24 points. CK scored 14 and Oly had 10.

“It’s hard to pick anyone specific,” CK coach Ken Allen said of his squad’s collective effort. “All the girls played really well. There was some tough competition in there. We didn’t have one (doubles) team that let us down.”

Perhaps the ultimate example was the play of Katherine and Saschi Sugimoto (unrelated) in the second round of the tourney. The pair, which had been CK’s No. 2 doubles team heading into the tournament, played in at the No. 1 spot due to the absence of regular No. 1’s Nika Botkin and Corinne LeTourneau. Botkin was visiting a Louisiana university over the weekend.

In their first match, they displaced Gig Harbor’s No. 1 duo of Chelsy and Katie West, 6-2, 6-1. That put them up against SK’s Emily Alder and Melissa Watson, one of the favorites in the No. 1 doubles bracket. In what was one of the finest doubles matches on the day, the Lady Wolves came out on top.

“They’ve been improving steadily all year,” CK coach Ken Allen said. “They’ve been playing the No. 2, so they had a chance to see tougher competition. It gave them a chance to shine and they did it.”

Olympic is in a similar situation, although their top veteran, Rebekah Kolstad, showed that she belonged in a tough first-round loss to Bremerton’s Lya Lya Chrona, a Ukrainian exchange student.

Kolstad used good shot placement early in the match to jump out to a 2-1 lead in the first set. Chrona would strike back, building a 5-4 lead before putting the set away 6-4. The second set went to Chrona 6-2.

“The match with Lya Lya was an eye-opener for Rebekah,” Patraw said. “So we’ll sit down and come up with a good game plan.”

Since Patraw also organizes the event, he said he doesn’t get to see as many of his girls matches as he’d like. But what he did see, he was pleased with.

“I didn’t get to see as much, but most

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