BELLINGHAM - For being a only a sophomore and freshman, respectively, Sehome's Simone Hall and Lizzie Friesen already have a very mature approach to the game of tennis.
"We have a motto, which is no rearview mirrors," Friesen said. "You just don't look back on a point, whether we won it or lost it, you just always talk about the next point. I think that's really helped us, because tennis is so mental."
Never was that approach more important than on Wednesday, May 8, during the doubles semifinals of the Class 2A North Sub-District Tournament on their home courts.
Hall and Friesen were staggered in a quick first-set loss to teammates and close friends Andrea Clawson and Lauren Smith, who were the top seed into the doubles draw. But Hall and Friesen gathered their wits and rallied to grab a 1-6, 7-6 (9), 7-5 victory.
"I think they just relaxed after that first set," Mariners coach Bonna Giller said of Hall and Friesen. "Sehome playing against Sehome, it's something we do every day in practice. I think they just started to play with the attitude that they had nothing to lose. They were still in it even if they did lose that match. They weren't afraid of the people across the net. The tension was gone - I think you could see that in their face. They just enjoyed the game of tennis."
They'll try to keep enjoying themselves at 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 9, in the district championship match against Burlington-Edison's Mariah Swanson and Heaven Henry, who beat Bellingham's Catie Welch and Kate Troutman 6-2, 7-5 in the other semifinal.
Not surprisingly, the singles final will feature Bellingham's Bella Hoyos and Burlington-Edison's Anna Lefebvre - the top two seeds in the tournament and returning state placers from last year.
Hoyos cruised through both her quarterfinal and semifinal matches, beating Anacortes' Ashleigh Neitzel and Paola Jurkovich 6-0, 6-0 and 6-0, 6-1, respectively. Lefebvre, meanwhile, had to go three sets to dispatch with Sedro-Woolley exchange student Pauline Mosch 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals.
The tournament, which now is in the double-elimination phase, will send the top five finishers in each draw through to next week's 2A Northwest District Tournament to compete for trips to state.
In the singles bracket, Lynden's Devon Kollmyer stayed alive with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Neitzel, while Bellingham's Kira Vazorka earned the right to keep playing by beating teammate Mariah Miller 6-3, 6-1. Both suffered quarterfinal losses earlier Wednesday.
The Lions' Tilly Timmer and Morgan Otter remained alive in the consolation doubles draw with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Sedro-Woolley's Emily Van Liew and Bridgette Janicki. They'll face Welch and Troutman in the consolation semifinals on Thursday.
Sehome's third doubles tandem of Madison and Taylor Harris also rebounded from a quarterfinal loss with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Bellingham's Tess Owen and Cari Pearsall and moved on to face teammates Clawson and Smith.
Hall and Friesen will be the first to say that facing a pair of teammates is no easy task.
"It's a difficult game playing two of your best, great friends, Friesen said. "It took us a while to kind of kick into gear and start playing like we should."
Considering the semifinal match was just the fourth match Hall and Friesen have played together while wearing Sehome green and gold and they have very limited doubles time together in area United States Tennis Association matches, it can be understood why it took a little while for them to feel comfortable playing on the same side of the net.
"The first couple of matches, it's been figuring out what kind of player each other is and how we work together," Hall said.
Like Clawson and Smith, who are also a sophomore and freshman, respectively, Hall and Friesen spent almost the entire season playing singles for Sehome, playing only one non-conference match together in the Mariners' final outing.
And they were pretty successful, too, as Hall went 14-0 at mostly No. 2 singles for Sehome, while Friesen was 13-0 at No. 4.
But because of what figures to be a difficult draw with Hoyos, Lefebvre and a host of other talented, more experienced players, Giller chose to pair up her four singles players for doubles during the district playoffs to help their chances to advance and because she "didn't want to put the young kids in the fire like that."
With all three teams still alive and one playing for a sub-district title, Giller's decision is paying off with her young players - the Harris twins also are sophomores.
"I'm real excited that all six are in it and they battled the past two days," Giller said. "With young kids like that, you worry about how they'll handle it when the score gets tight in tough matches. But they've handled it well."
And nobody has handled it better than Hall and Friesen.
After dropping the first set of their semifinal, they talked about what they needed to work on.
"We talked more about keeping it slower, because they were hitting everything so fast," Hall said. "We talked about keeping our cool, because it was just so emotional playing our teammates."
Nowhere was it more emotional than in a second-set tiebreaker, when Hall and Friesen twice faced match point.
"Getting to the tiebreaker, it all went by so quickly," Friesen said. "It was really intense."
But the youngsters showed they have the mental fortitude to battle through the challenge to score three straight points to win the set and then battle through a tough third set to grab the match.
"I think both of us are strong at keeping our heads and being able to play through anything," Hall said.
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
CLASS 2A NORTH SUB-DISTRICT TOURNAMENT
Bella Hoyos (Bellingham) def. Ashleigh Neitzel (Anacortes) 6-0, 6-0; Paola Jurkovich (Anacortes) def. Devon Kollmyer (Lynden) 6-4, 6-4; Pauline Mosch (Sedro-Woolley) def. Mariah Miller (Bellingham) 3-6, 6-2, 6-1; Anna Lefebvre (Burlington-Edison) def. Kira Vazorka (Bellingham) 6-3, 6-3.
Consolation first round
Devon Kollmyer (Lynden) def. Ashleigh Neitzel (Anacortes) 6-4, 6-1; Kira Vazorka (Bellingham) def. Mariah Miller (Bellingham) 6-3, 6-1.
Bella Hoyos (Bellingham) def. Paola Jurkovich (Anacortes) 6-0, 6-1; Anna Lefebvre (Burlington-Edison) def. Pauline Mosch (Sedro-Woolley) 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Andrea Clawson/Lauren Smith (Sehome) def. Tilly Timmer/Morgan Otter (Lynden) 6-1, 6-1; Simone Hall/Lizzie Friesen (Sehome) def. Emily Van Liew/Bridgette Janicki (Sedro-Woolley) 6-7 (10), 6-2, 6-1; Catie Welch/Kate Troutman (Bellingham) def. Tess Owen/Cari Pearsall (Bellingham) 6-4, 7-6 (4); Mariah Swanson/Heaven Henry (Burlington-Edison) def. Madison Harris/Taylor Harris (Sehome) 6-3, 6-3.
Consolation first round
Tilly Timmer/Morgan Otter (Lynden) def. Emily Vanliew/Bridgette Janicki (Sedro-Woolley) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3; Madison Harris/Taylor Harris (Sehome) def. Tess Owen/Cari Pearsall (Bellingham) 7-5, 7-5.
Simone Hall/Lizzie Friesen (Sehome) def. Andrea Clawson/Lauren Smith (Sehome) 1-6, 7-6 (9), 7-5; Mariah Swanson/Heaven Henry (Burlington-Edison) def. Catie Welch/Kate Troutman (Bellingham) 6-2, 7-5.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.