With the success the Lynden athletic program has had in other sports recently, don't expect anyone to feel too bad for the Lions.
That said, it's not easy playing tennis at Lynden - particularly in the spring.
Let's face it, it's not easy playing high school girls' tennis anywhere in Whatcom County at this time of year.
Fortunately, dedicated players like Lions senior Devon Kollmyer make it work, though.
"It's kind of frustrating sometimes, but you just have fun with it and stay focused," Kollmyer said in a phone interview.
In case you've lived in a cave and haven't noticed during the first two weeks of the spring season, it rains a little bit here in the Pacific Northwest.
A little bit?
So far, only 13 girls' tennis matches have been completed this spring because of rain-soaked, sometimes snow-covered courts. At least two times as many matches have been postponed either before they started or before their completion due to slippery surfaces, and many of the matches that have been completed barely made it before rain started to fall.
As difficult as the weather has made it to get in matches, it's been even worse for area coaches to try to hold practices.
"I can't tell you how many times we've had to head for the gym," Lynden coach Trey Ballard said. "You try to make it as realistic as you can, and the girls get excited to hit at the nets and serve, but it's nothing like playing on a court."
Though every team in the Northwest Conference is battling the same elements outside, some schools have a certain "home-court" advantage that at least helps them during the offseason.
Players at the three Bellingham schools have the option of playing or taking lessons inside the dry, friendly confines of the Bellingham Tennis Center. Same goes for Blaine players with indoor courts at Semiahmoo. Even Burlington has a bubble that allows Burlington-Edison and Sedro-Woolley players to escape the rain for preseason work if they choose.
Lynden, Ferndale and Anacortes, meanwhile, have no relief within city limits, though.
"I have to walk a thin line of trying to make things fun for the players and trying to build a competitive team," Ballard said. "I usually err on the side of making sure I make things fun. I could jump up and down and pressure my players to drive to Bellingham during the offseason so they can take lessons. These days, in this league, that's really what you need to do to be successful, but that hour-and-a-half drive every day kind of takes the fun out of it. So we do the best we can."
Kollmyer said a number of Lions made the drive to Semiahmoo for offseason lessons over the winter, but despite that, Lynden finds itself in its annual position of playing early-season catch up in March.
And the weather has not cooperated there, either, as the Lions still had not completed a match as of Friday, March 22 - though they had started quite a few.
"I just don't really know what I've got, yet," Ballard said. "We are such a young squad, and we really haven't been able to play or even practice, yet, so we just don't know. We usually start kind of slow and get stronger as the season goes along as we get more time to shake off the rust, but this year, we haven't been able to start yet."
But there is one thing Ballard is completely sure of - he's got a great competitor in Kollmyer.
Need proof of that?
Simply look back to what she did during the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament last spring.
Then a junior, Kollmyer was unseeded into the district singles draw with a 5-11 regular-season record.
She opened the tournament with straight-set wins over Lakewood's Alisa Smith and Sehome's Jane Clawsen before locking horns with Blaine's Aubrie Hagen in a classic three-set battle that included two tie-breakers. She ended up surviving 6-2, 6-7 (1), 7-6 (10) to advance to the district semifinals against top-seeded and unbeaten two-time doubles state champion Bella Hoyos.
Though Kollmyer ended up falling 6-2, 6-2, Hoyos didn't win in a walk over.
"I learned a lot from that match," Kollmyer said. "It was really hard playing against someone like Bella after playing for almost 31/2 hours on a hot day. I felt I was able to give her a good match, and she played really well."
The fact that she was able to do so was no surprise, Ballard said.
In fact, he's come to expect exactly that from the two-sport athlete, who has signed a National Letter of Intent to play women's soccer and major in Molecular Biology next year at Simon Fraser University as she studies to become a doctor.
"Anybody that plays soccer, like I used to do, knows that you need to be tough in that sport," Ballard said. "They run around and kick each other in the shins all game long. The thing about Devon is I don't think she ever has a negative thought in her head. If she doesn't think she's going to win, she goes out there with the attitude 'What can I learn from this match?'"
The match against Hoyos, who went on to win the district singles crown and finish third at the 2A State Tournament, was no different, as Kollmyer learned a important lesson, which she's already utilizing this year.
"I thought that match was a good indication of what it's going to take for me to reach my goal of making it through to state this year," Kollmyer said. "I saw that it was attainable. I'm really excited for this season."
To help reach that goal, Kollmyer said she's focusing on improving her serves and volleys this year.
Combine that with her ability to keep the ball in play and her mental toughness, and Kollmyer could be difficult to keep out of the top three in May at the district tournament.
With the competitive fire she stoked growing up playing soccer, Ballard certainly isn't putting a trip to state beyond her, despite what figures to be a very difficult field with the combination of the Northwest and Sea-King districts this year.
"I'm not sure she has a kill shot or a put-away shot in her bag," Ballard said. "I swear I try to teach her how to take the ball on the short hop, but she is more comfortable trying to destroy another player. She wants to make them melt down. She can mentally outlast any other player she faces. In a way, it reminds me of Roger Federer."
High praise, especially considering the difficulty Kollmyer and her teammates have just getting on the court during the offseason and early spring.
"It's more difficult for us, but we make the most out of what we can do," Kollmyer said. "We just try to have as much fun as we possibly can. It makes it all worth it."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org at 360-715-2286.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.