BELLINGHAM - Bellingham's Bella Hoyos said she actually looks forward to any opportunity she gets to play close friend and United States Tennis Association doubles partner Anna Lefebvre in high school tennis.
She knows she's going up against a great competitor who finished runner up at the Class 2A State Tournament last year.
For the fourth time this year, Hoyos got the better of her friendly rival from Burlington-Edison, as she claimed the 2A Northwest District singles title with a 6-2, 6-4 win on Wednesday, May 15, at Sehome High School. Hoyos claimed the crown for the second straight year and a district title for a third-straight time - she also won a doubles district title in 2011 on the way to a second straight state title.
It marked Hoyos' second straight-sets win over Lefebvre in the postseason, after the duo went three sets during the regular season.
"It's my senior year, my last time playing in districts, it means a lot," Hoyos said. "Especially playing Anna, who has gotten so much more accomplished. It means so much more to beat such a great player."
Hoyos' win helped the Red Raiders lock up the district team title, as well.
Sehome's doubles pair of Andrea Clawson and Lauren Smith, meanwhile, won the doubles district title with a 6-2, 7-6 (4) win over Burlington-Edison's Mariah Swanson and Heaven Henry.
"I think we're really pumped," Smith said. "We're on a roll right now. We know that there will be really good competition at state."
Smith and Clawson actually handed Hoyos her only loss of the season in a regular-season ending doubles match on May 4.
But in singles play, she has simply been unbeatable this year, as Wednesday's win moved her record to 22-0.
Lefebvre made her work for this one, though, despite what the straight sets might say.
"She's a tough player, and once she puts a couple of points together, she just starts firing, and it's tough to get back," Hoyos said.
Hoyos, who has been bothered by a blister on her right foot throughout the sub-district and district tournaments, also was impressed by the toughness Lefebvre displayed, coming back after she slipped during the second set and appeared to pull a muscle in the back of her leg. Lefebvre just kept coming, though.
"It was like the two gimps out there," Hoyos joked. "I really respected her, though. She fought through it."
But in the end, after a first set Hoyos called "simply awesome" the Bellingham senior just had too much for Lefebvre.
"One thing about Bella is her movement is so good," Red Raiders coach Steve Chronister said. "You could really see that today. She can play off and hit the ball and move the ball around, but she can play defense, too, and take points away from people that they normally would earn against somebody else. That combination, you've got to be pretty darned good to beat her."
It turns out you've got to be pretty darned good to beat Clawson and Smith, too.
Though their first match together in Sehome uniforms was that May 4 match against Hoyos and Cari Pearsall, they've won seven of eight since. Their only loss was to teammates Simone Hall and Lizzie Friesen, who won the sub-district title but unfortunately had to withdraw from the district tournament due to injury.
Clawson's and Smith's run to the district title has been surprising - at least to them.
"We were both just hoping to make the state cutoff," Clawson said. "I don't think we were thinking we'd do this well and win district."
But they never looked better than they did in first set Wednesday, when coach Bonna Giller said they, "dominated the entire first set with very few unforced errors, a lot of winners and their serves were there for sure."
Swanson and Henry, who also were runner up at the sub-district tournament, responded with a strong second set, forcing Clawson and Smith to come back to force the tie-breaker.
"We just tried to stay calm," Clawson said. "We just took it one point at a time."
That certainly worked in the tie-breaker, as they never trailed.
While the win may have surprised them, Giller said it was exactly what she expected to see when she paired them less than two weeks ago.
"They're both individually extremely skilled tennis players," Giller said. "It's not the first time they've ever played doubles in their lives. Tennis is tennis, and it didn't take them long to start clicking together."
Hoyos and Clawson and Smith were the only Whatcom County players to advance through to state, though.
Bellingham's Kate Troutman and Catie Welch advanced to the third-place doubles match with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Sehome's Taylor and Madison Harris, but lost 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the winner-to-state match to Lake Washington's Amanda Levine and Kelly Barnes, who earlier beat Lynden's Morgan Otter and Tilly Timmer 0-6, 6-3, 6-0.
Bellingham's Kira Vazorka, meanwhile fell one step short of the third-place singles match with a 6-1, 6-1 loss to Lake Washington's Ellen Pearson, who went on to claim the third and final trip to state.
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
CLASS 2A NORTHWEST DISTRICT TOURNAMENT
Consolation second round
Pauline Mosch (Sedro-Woolley) def. Paola Jurkovich (Anacortes) 6-2, 6-0; Ellen Pearson (Lake Washington) def. Kira Vazorka (Bellingham) 6-1, 6-1.
Third place match
Pauline Mosch (Sedro-Woolley) def. Ellen Pearson (Lake Washington) 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Bella Hoyos (Bellingham) def. Anna Lefebvre (Burlington-Edison) 6-2, 6-4.
Consolation first round
Catie Welch/Kate Troutman (Bellingham) def. Taylor Harris/Madison Harris (Sehome) 6-2, 6-4; Amanda Levine/Kelly Barnes (Lake Washington) def. Morgan Otter/Tilly Timmer (Lynden) 0-6, 6-3, 6-0.
Third place match
Amanda Levine/Kelly Barnes (Lake Washington) winner def. Catie Welch/Kate Troutman (Bellingham) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Andrea Clawson/Lauren Smith (Sehome) def. Mariah Swanson/Heaven Henry (Burlington-Edison) 6-2, 7-6 (4).
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.