BELLINGHAM - Through six games, the state tennis tournament was a fleeting dream for Bellingham's doubles pairing of Nick Nolan and Connor Thompson.
The two found themselves down 5-1 in the first set to Lake Washington's Tristan Jiminez and Fergy Lu in a winner-to-state doubles consolation match at the Class 2A Bi-District tennis tournament. Everything seemingly was coming to an end.
Momentum, though, has a funny way of being unpredictable.
Nolan and Thompson rallied to win the next six games to take the first set 7-5. The second set came and went minus the first-set drama, and Nolan and Thompson sealed their trip to state with a 7-5, 6-2 victory Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the Bellingham Tennis Club in Fairhaven.
"(Lake Washington) didn't have the intensity that we had," Nolan said. "When we got that intensity and the emotion going, I think that is how we won this thing."
Their fiery nature never abandoned them despite being down 5-1. And the score was a bit misleading at the time, since Nolan and Thompson routinely pushed Lake Washington to deuce. It was merely a matter of time before the pendulum swung their way, and at 5-1 with Lake Washington serving for the set, it finally did.
Thompson withstood several overheads beyond the baseline in that pivotal game at 5-1, and Nolan, as he did all match, began the comeback with an emphatic slam to break Lake Washington.
"Whenever I have a chance to hit an overhead, I am right on it because I know that those are shots that are hard to get back," Nolan said. "Whenever I have the chance to pounce on one of the balls, I'll do it."
He did time after time, and Thompson continued setting up his teammate with strong ground strokes that forced Lake Washington to try to loft it over the rangy Nolan.
"I was thinking, 'If I can just get him a couple more pop ups, (we) can get on a roll," Thompson said.
Nolan's overhead finish to secure the set for Bellingham elicited a typical response from the two: Thompson sternly walking toward a leaping, jumping and hollering Nolan, ending with multiple high-fives and fist pumps from the two.
The second set began with Bellingham taking a 3-2 lead, and they rounded it out by winning the final three games to secure their spot in the state doubles tournament.
"I don't want to say it is always good to be down, but when you are down, you have something to strive for," Nolan said. "The (goal) is to get up there and try to come back and get a good upset coming."
Sehome's Brady Anderson defeated Anacortes' Jared Wigen 6-1, 6-1 in the boys' singles' consolation match. With the win, Anderson locked up his second consecutive berth to the state tournament while also lifting Sehome to a Class 2A Bi-District tennis crown.
For Anderson, the All-Northwest Conference Most Valuable Player, seemingly every facet of his game was on display as he navigated the net and served consistently well to frustrate Wigen.
"I think I was playing pretty well," Anderson said. "My serves were really on - I was hitting really hard serves, so that definitely helped me get through it."
Anderson was coming off only his second loss of the season after falling to Sammamish's Ethan Romney in straight sets Tuesday, Oct. 22, so a strong win was a welcome sight for the sophomore standout.
The first set was indicative of his level of comfort playing against Wigen, as it took Anderson only 21 minutes to win it 6-1.
The second set, though, took much longer, as Wigen's heavy ground strokes continually pushed Anderson to play long, grueling points.
"He really held his own," Anderson said of Wigen. "I really had to focus. ... There were a lot of close games."
Reach Alex Bigelow at email@example.com or 360-715-2238. For other Whatcom County sports news, follow us on twitter at bhampsports.