When Sehome's girls' tennis team made history by being the first team to sweep the District 1 qualifications to the Class 2A State Tournament, Mariners' coach Bonna Giller pumped her fist, the players jumped up and down. Even the parents stood in awe.
Everyone was impressed, but nobody was surprised.
The Mariners will send the maximum nine players - three doubles teams and three singles - to the state tournament Friday, May 30, at the Nordstrom Tennis Center in Seattle.
"Sometimes I think about it and I can't believe it," Giller said in a phone interview. "It's one thing to be good on paper, and another to execute."
But Sehome has done just that.
From Lauren Smith and Andrea Clawson battling it out all year to see who was the top in the district to Emily Webster, a soccer standout, joining the team in her senior season and creating an outstanding duo with Natalie Knops.
From Ali Morrow, who entered sub-districts as a No. 10 seed, managing to beat everyone but her own team in the postseason, to a potent twin doubles team of Madison Harris and Taylor Harris coming up big time after time.
Even Lizzie Friesen and Simone Hall were dynamic all season long.
Everything just clicked for the Mariners.
"Every year, the dynamics of a team are at question. There can be a lot of drama," Giller said. "We don't have any of that this year. We have been able to put all of our attention and energy and talent into playing."
The Mariners' talent works for them in two ways.
First, talent leads to success and success leads to confidence, something Sehome displays every time they walk on the court, Giller says.
Second, the Mariners are able to play against the best team in the district - Sehome - every day at practice and there are no two better at exemplifying that notion than Lauren Smith and Andrea Clawson.
The two have competed for the past two years and Giller wasn't exactly calling the competition friendly.
"It's been a tense but respectful rivalry," Giller said. "When they get on the court, it's all business. ... I can't watch sometimes because the intensity is so high."
Competing against each other has only made each one better, Giller said, but right now Smith has the edge.
She finally beat Clawson in practice, then again at sub-districts and once more at districts.
"Lauren has really stepped up her game," Giller said. "She's not surprising me because she's had the potential for a long time. She's just now getting over the mental part."
Smith and Clawson will get a chance to see who is really top dog at the state tournament, something they couldn't do last year.
After going undefeated in conference play as singles last year, Giller joined the two forces as a doubles team going into the postseason. They went on to win state.
This year, the decision was up to them on how they would enter the postseason. The choice was clear.
"They were talented enough to beat everyone in district. They have the chance to go one-two at state," Giller said. "Both of them were thinking they wanted to try their shot at it as singles."
Regardless of where Smith and Clawson finish, the Mariners have one thought on their mind: a Sehome state title.
With nine players at state, the Mariners will have plenty of opportunities to rack up points. The only question is whether or not they can execute.
Reach Joshua Hart by email at email@example.com or by phone at 360-715-2851.