Sehome girls' tennis players fight through adversity

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 15, 2013 

BELLINGHAM - From tears of heartbreak for a teammate to smiles of accomplishment, it's been a roller coaster 72 hours for the Sehome girls' tennis team.

On Sunday, the Mariners learned that teammate Simone Hall suffered a hairline fracture in her elbow in what coach Bonna Giller called a "freak accident in the house that is just a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing."

Hall and her playing partner Lizzie Friesen, who won the sub-district tournament doubles title last week, had to withdraw after they were supposed to be the top seed into the Class 2A Northwest District Girls' Tennis Tournament, which opened on Tuesday, May 14.

"I wanted to cry," freshman Lauren Smith said. "It wasn't fair. They worked so hard. They would have definitely got to state."

"I was devastated," sophomore Andrea Clawson said. "I did cry. There were tears."

But any tears Smith or Clawson shed on Tuesday were tears of joy, as they beat Sammamish's Min Yang and Ha Nguyen 6-1, 6-0 in the first round, before topping Lake Washington's Amanda Levine and Kelly Barnes 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals.

Not only did that win send Smith and Clawson to face Burlington-Edison's Mariah Swanson and Heaven Henry in the district championship match, scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15, at Sehome, but it also clinched a trip to state for the duo.

Bellingham's Bella Hoyos also clinched a trip to state in singles with a 6-2, 6-3 first-round win over teammate Kira Vazorka and a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Sedro-Woolley's Pauline Mosch in the semifinals.

It marks the fourth straight spring Hoyos will head to state and the second straight year the two-time doubles state champion has advanced in singles.

"It's definitely an accomplishment," Hoyos said. "I don't know what to say. I'm honored, really."

Hoyos will face close friend and rival Anna Lefebvre from Burlington-Edison in Wednesday's district championship match.

But just like last week, when a quarter-sized blister developed on the ball of her right foot during the sub-district tournament, getting through took a little bit of guts and determination on Hoyos' part.

The senior said her uncle wrapped her right foot on Tuesday.

"It was really tight so I couldn't feel the blister, but it's also kind of cutting off circulation," Hoyos said. "But I'll take it, because it feels a lot better than the blister."

Hoyos, who only dropped three games in the sub-district tournament, had to work a little more on Tuesday.

"My first match was tough, because it was against my teammate," Hoyos said. "That's always hard. And this one (the semifinal), I was so determined because I knew if I won it I would be going to state. State was obviously pushing me to win."

That goal, as well as the motivation of playing for an injured teammate, definitely gave a boost to Sehome's two remaining doubles tandems in the tournament.

"The team was so awesome," Giller said. "They went to see Simone right away to comfort her, and same thing with Lizzie, because her partner was out of it. ... It's hard on a team trying to win a district title when you lose your No. 1 team, but we've got two more teams to deal with now and life goes on and the tournament goes on."

Like Hall and Friesen, Clawson and Smith were singles players throughout the season until Giller paired them up for the last match of the season a week and a half ago.

They actually entered the sub-district tournament seeded No. 1 in the doubles draw, but were beaten in the semifinals by Hall and Friesen - their only loss so far in eight matches together.

"Just like Simone and Lizzie, they started out a little rusty playing doubles," Giller said. "I think they're playing better and better every match, and this last match was a good indication, because they beat a good Lake Washington team."

Though they won in straight sets in the semifinal, it wasn't an easy win.

"We were pretty nervous, Clawson said.

But like any good doubles team, they relied on each other to get through.

"We just kept each other positive," Smith said. "I thought that was the best match that we've played that we've been able to do that."

Clawson said they also wanted to make sure they played for Hall and Friesen.

"I think that definitely put things in perspective," Clawson said. "It was motivation. It made me feel lucky just to be playing."

And now they'll get a chance to play at state in Seattle next week.

Smith actually will join older brother, Nick, who has already qualified to play in the boys' state tournament.

"I usually go to watch anyways," Lauren said. "He's gone to state before. It's weird that I'll actually be going to play, too."

Clawson and Smith also could be joined by teammates Taylor and Madison Harris, who still are alive in the consolation doubles bracket after beating Yang and Nguyen 6-1, 6-1. They'll need to win two matches on Wednesday to earn the third and final doubles spot out of the district.

They'll first face Bellingham's Catie Welch and Kate Troutman, who beat Lake Washington's Sara Tamai and Caroline Ross in the first round, but lost to Swanson and Henry 6-3, 7-6 (3) in a hard-fought semifinal.

Lynden's Morgan Otter and Tilly Timmer, who were the alternates added to the field after Hall and Friesen had to withdraw, also are still alive after bouncing back from a first-round loss with a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4) win over Tamai and Ross.

Vazorka is the only Whatcom County player alive in the consolation singles draw, as she bounced back from a loss to Hoyos with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Lake Washington's Marissa Kirk.

Reach David Rasbach at david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com or 360-715-2286.

CLASS 2A NORTHWEST DISTRICT TOURNAMENT

Tuesday's results

At Sehome

Singles

First round

Anna Lefebvre (Burlington-Edison) def. Rachel Mow (Granite Falls) 6-0, 6-0; Ellen Pearson (Lake Washington) def. Paola Jurkovich (Anacortes) 6-0, 6-0; Pauline Mosch (Sedro-Woolley) def. Marissa Kirk (Lake Washington) 6-0, 6-0; Bella Hoyos (Bellingham) def. Kira Vazorka (Bellingham) 6-2, 6-3.

Consolation first round

Paola Jurkovich (Anacortes) def. Rachel Mow (Granite Falls) 6-3, 6-1; Kira Vazorka (Bellingham) def. Marissa Kirk (Lake Washington) 6-0, 6-1.

Semifinals

Anna Lefebvre (Burlington-Edison) def. Ellen Pearson (Lake Washington) 4-6, 6-2, 6-1; Bella Hoyos (Bellingham) def. Pauline Mosch (Sedro-Woolley) 6-1, 6-3.

Doubles

First round

Andrea Clawson/Lauren Smith (Sehome) def. Min Yang/ Ha Nguyen (Sammamish) 6-1, 6-0; Amanda Levine/Kelly Barnes (Lake Washington) def. Taylor Harris/Madison Harris (Sehome) 7-5, 6-4; Catie Welch/Kate Troutman (Bellingham) def. Sara Tamai/Caroline Ross (Lake Washington) 6-0, 6-3; Mariah Swanson/Heaven Henry (Burlington-Edison) def. Morgan Otter/Tilly Timmer (Lynden) 6-3, 6-3.

Consolation first round

Taylor Harris/Madison Harris (Sehome) def. Min Yang/ Ha Nguyen (Sammamish) 6-1, 6-1; Morgan Otter/Tilly Timmer (Lynden) def. Sara Tamai/Caroline Ross (Lake Washington) 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4).

Semifinals

Andrea Clawson/Lauren Smith (Sehome) def. Amanda Levine/Kelly Barnes (Lake Washington) 6-3, 6-4; Mariah Swanson/Heaven Henry (Burlington-Edison) def. Catie Welch/Kate Troutman (Bellingham) 6-3, 7-6 (3).

Reach DAVID RASBACH at david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2271.

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