BELLINGHAM - It's taken Sehome players to beat Sehome players in postseason girls' tennis - so far, anyway.
Not that awe-inspired Bellingham coach Steve Chronister was the least bit surprised by the results in the round of 16 and quarterfinals at the second annual Class 2A Northwest Sub-District Tournament on Saturday, May 10, on Sehome and Western Washington University courts.
"Sehome is as good as any girls' team I've ever seen come out of the city of Bellingham," said Chronister, who also has had numerous outstanding teams and is one of the state's most experienced tennis coaches.
He won't get any argument from Sehome's Bonna Giller, another longtime coach with many standout squads.
"I'm very impressed and excited," said Giller, who has two singles players and two doubles teams in the semifinals on Monday, May 12, at Sehome, plus another singles player and another doubles team still alive in the tournament, which is now double-elimination in the scramble for four district tournament spots in both singles and doubles.
"I'm hopeful this was not our best tennis," she said. "But collectively, as a team, we played our strongest tennis of the season today. Without a doubt, this is our strongest team ever at Sehome. But we do have a long way to go (to contend for a state title)."
The top two singles seeds, Sehome junior Andrea Clawson and sophomore Lauren Smith, swept two matches to advance to the semifinals. Likewise, Sehome's doubles teams of junior twins Taylor and Madison Harris and Lizzie Friesen and Simone Hall did the same.
The Harris twins, however, received an intriguing three-set challenge in the quarterfinals from Sehome junior Natalie Knops and Emily Webster, a tennis rookie and the team's lone senior in the regular lineup.
Knops and Webster won a second-set tiebreaker before the Harris sisters went on to claim the two-hour match, 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-3, in the only doubles quarterfinal to go three sets.
"They're always good competition," said Taylor Harris, to which Madison quickly added, "Yes, Natalie and Emily are very aggressive and very competitive. They're always fun to play. They don't let go - they have great mental strength."
Madison Harris said her key to winning the third set was "when I decided to be more aggressive at the net," and Taylor said her emphasis was on "keeping the ball away from Natalie."
After a nonleague early-season loss, nobody has touched the Harris sisters.
In singles, Clawson and Smith - last year's Class 2A state doubles champs - were technically overwhelming Saturday while making very few mistakes in their two wins apiece. They have lost only a handful of games after switching to singles.
While acknowledging her hunger for a singles state title, Clawson did not hesitate to express her real desire.
"What we really want is to win the state title as a team," she said. "We're a very close team and nothing could be better."
In the semifinals Monday starting at 1 p.m. (followed by the finals), Clawson will face Anacortes' Paola Jurkovich, who beat Bellingham's Kira Vazorka 6-2, 6-4 in the quarters. Smith will meet Sedro-Woolley's Kassidee Beuse, who beat Squalicum's Ali Anders 6-1, 6-2. Clawson defeated Bellingham's Mariah Miller 6-3, 6-2, and Smith beat Sehome teammate Ali Morrow 6-1, 6-0.
In the doubles semifinals Monday, the Friesen/Hall team will face Squalicum's Kim Dorr and Sarah Byron (at 8:30 a.m. to accommodate a school test) and the Harris/Harris squad will meet Bellingham's Catie Welch and Ellie Iwersen.
Dorr/Byron, who have been a team for only seven matches, prevailed in the quarterfinals over Sedro-Woolley's Bridget Janicki and Emily Van Liew 6-4, 6-3. Welch/Iwersen were especially impressive while dominating Anacortes' Carly Anderson/Kylie Berlin 6-0, 6-0. Friesen and Hall advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Bellingham's Tess Owen and Keri Brauner.
Byron, who played singles during most of the regular season for Squalicum, became Dorr's doubles teammate when Dorr's twin, Rachel, sustained an ACL injury.
"I think this experience will help me in singles next year," Byron said. "Joe (O'Brien, Squalcium's coach) set us up to play together. He knows what he's doing."
Kim Dorr said it was great having a quick soccer teammate and good buddy such as Byron available to take Rachel's place.
"Sarah and I had really good chemistry right away," said Kim, who retains strong hopes of qualifying for district and state. "Our only two losses have been to the Harris twins. Sarah helps me with strong net skills. And I've taught her our cool handshake."
CLASS 2A NORTHWEST SUB-DISTRICT TOURNAMENT
Round of 16 (second round) - loser out
Andrea Clawson (Sehome) def. Eleanore Sammeth (Burl) 6-1, 6-1; Mariah Miller (Bell) def. Jolie Jurkovich (Ana) 6-4, 6-2; Kira Vazorka (Bell) def. Shannon Jack (S-W) 6-1, 6-0; Paola Jurkovich (Ana) def. Susan Laitsch (Squal) 6-1, 6-0; Kassidee Beuse (S-W) def. Emily Corbin (Lyn) 6-1, 6-2; Al Anders (Squal) def. Micaela Granberg (Burl) 6-1, 6-1; Ali Morrow (Sehome) def. Kara Burns (Bell) 6-1, 6-0; Lauren Smith (Sehome) def. Jaycy Cammock (Burl) 6-1, 6-0.
Clawson def. Miller 6-3,, 6-2; P. Jurkovich def. Vazorka 6-2, 6-4; Buese def. Anders 6-1, 6-1; Smith def. Morrow 6-3, 6-3.
Round of 16 (second round) - loser out
Lizzi Friesen/Simone Hall (Sehome) def. Amy Schols/Ashley Hailey (S-W) 6-2, 6-0; Tess Owen/Keri Brauner (Bell) def. Sydney Parkinson/Jessica Maskell (Burl) 6-0, 5-7, 6-2; Bridget Janicki/Emily Van Liew (S-W) def. Carly Anderson/Maria Dale (Ana) 6-2, 6-2; Kim Dorr/Sarah Byron (Squal) def. Kellie Fiebig/Bailee Mulder (Lyn) 6-1, 6-0; Madison Harris/Taylor Harris (Sehome) def. Karlie Lodjic/Kjisa Gifford (S-W) 6-0, 6-0; Emily Webster/Natalie Knops (Sehome) def. Olivia Bjorklund/Ashley Spink (Bell) 6-0, 6-0; Carly Anderson/Kylie Berlin (Ana) def. Tirsa Randall-Grutter/Lindsey Belsher (Squal); Catie Welch/Ellie Iwersen (Bell) def. Kelly Hewson/Alex Schulhauser (Lyn) 6-4, 6-0.
Friesen/Hall def. Owen/Brauner 6-3, 6-2; Dorr/Byron def. Janicki/Van Liew 6-4, 6-3; Harris/Harris def. Webster/Knops 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-3; Welch/Iwersen def. Anderson/Berlin 6-0, 6-0.