CK does the math

Katherine Sugimoto (left) and Sachi Sugimoto have clinched no worse than the No. 5 seed to Wednesday’s West Central District tournament.  - Photo by Jesse Beals
Katherine Sugimoto (left) and Sachi Sugimoto have clinched no worse than the No. 5 seed to Wednesday’s West Central District tournament.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

TACOMA — Most people tend to think they’re sisters. Others simply see them as something akin to the Three Amigos.

The truth is, they’re a little bit of both.

Central Kitsap’s Sugimotos — twin sisters Aya and Sachi and unrelated Katherine — don’t let the similarities end with their shared last name. All three tennis players are sophomores. They’re all friends since junior high, spending time together off the court as well as on it. They’ve been classmates since elementary school. All have been playing tennis since about age 7 (Katherine took a break to focus on ballet until seventh grade).

But what the threesome really hopes to share is a trip to districts, then state.

“It’s a good start,” Central Kitsap coach Ken Allen said after the trio each won its opening matches at the Narrows League Tennis Tournament Wednesday at the University of Puget Sound. “They’re a really tight-knit group. They’re friends in and out of tennis.”

When Allen first saw three Sugimotos on his roster, he thought the same thing most do.

“At first, it was just like everyone else,” Allen said. “’What’s the relation?’ They said, ‘No relation. Just a coincidence.’ It’s just kind of an interesting and funny thing.”

Aya, CK’s No. 1 singles player, said the trio all got along from the start. Katherine and Sachi are CK’s No. 1 doubles squad.

“Yeah, it was really funny because Sachi and Katherine play doubles but they’re not related,” she said. “We all just got along right there. We’ve pretty much always been together.”

Having been in the same kindergarten class helps forge those bonds too.

“My mom went to look at the class list,” Katherine said of that kindergarten class. “She saw three Sugimotos and said, ‘It must be a mistake.’”

Standing around with the girls, you can tell they’ve been friends for a long time, often finishing each others’ thoughts and sentences.

“We’re like best friends,” Katherine said.

“Definitely,” Sachi agreed. “On the court and off the court.”

Since all three also play at the Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Club, that friendship has also helped them push each other to become better players. All three also compete in USTA events.

“The Sugimotos work so hard,” Allen said. “They’re definitely not tennis-season only players. They’re year-round players. It’s great having them come back and have that preparation.”

Last year, Aya played singles during the bulk of the regular season before teaming up with Sachi to form a doubles tandem that ended up sixth at league before dropping out at the district tourney. Sachi and Katherine had been partners most of the season.

“We didn’t play that much doubles (before last year),” Aya said. “It was something that was really different. I think it took a bit of time to get used to.”

“It was a good experience,” Sachi said.

While the experiment was beneficial for the sisters, Aya said she prefers singles and Sachi said if she wasn’t playing with Katherine, she’d probably be doing the same.

“Katherine would be the only doubles partner I’d play with,” Sachi said.

“It’d be weird playing with someone else,” Katherine added.

This year, Aya has entered and clinched a district singles spot, while Sachi and Katherine have done the same on doubles. Ultimately, it takes the trio one step closer to their goals.

“Just make it to state,” Katherine said.

“I’m definitely not going to give up,” Aya added. “You really don’t know what happens until the end.”

While the Narrows League tournament wrapped up Friday (results were unavailable at press time), the West Central District tournament will take place Wednesday, May 17 at 8 a.m. at Sprinker Recreation Center in Tacoma.

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