No matter the outcome of Saturday’s 2A girls’ doubles state championship tennis match, a Bellingham High School team was going to win a state title.
In a rematch of the sub-district final and the district final, seniors Sophia Lawrence and Alice Hiebert defeated seniors Ellie Iwersen and Keara Kintzele 6-1, 6-0. Lawrence and Hiebert finished the season undefeated and never lost a set during any of their matches. In fact, the pairing never lost more than three games in a set all year.
Despite the awkward situation of winning a title meaning your teammates lose one, Hiebert said it wasn’t weird.
“It’s honestly more of an honor to get to play against them,” Hiebert said. “They’re great players and I’m happy that we got to play them in the finals.”
Hiebert said her team’s strategy wasn’t very aggressive in the final but it worked for them.
“We went into that match knowing we just needed to keep the ball in and play consistent,” Hiebert said. “When you get to the state final there’s not a whole lot you can change about your game.”
Bellingham tennis coach Steve Chronister didn’t do any coaching when it came time for the doubles teams to square off. Bellingham was already guaranteed a team title, the first in school history for tennis, so he said he told the players they were on their own.
“I don’t want any inkling of an idea that I’m favoring one or the other,” Chronister said. “Usually I’m coaching and cheering, but it was pretty cool to sit back and watch them play.”
Chronister said seeing two Bellingham teams playing for a state title is “way up there” on his list of most memorable moments as coach, but he called winning a team title “its own special thing.”
The duo of Iwersen and Kintzele had only been playing together for three weeks prior to Saturday’s state final at Nordstrom Tennis Center in Seattle. Chronister said he knew Iwersen was a high-level state player, but that Kintzele has come a long way since the start of the season.
On the singles side for 2A girls, Sehome’s Tessa Tapmongkol was one of three Sehome tennis teams to finish second at state. Tapmongkol lost the championship match to Danya Wallis of North Kitsap, 6-0, 6-2.
Class 2A boys
Darren Ma and William Zhang came up short for Sehome in the state final as the duo lost to Gregory Arthur and Don Arsenev of Clarkston in three sets, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.
Shane Lynette was the third Sehome competitor to lose a championship match as he was beaten by Tye Loan of Olympic, 6-2, 6-0.
Class 3A girls
Squalicum’s Catherine Michelutti lost in the semifinals to eventual state champion Viv Daniel of Lakeside, 6-2, 6-2. Michelutti finished the tournament in sixth place after losing a consolation game 6-1, 6-1 to Izabella Bilecova of North Thurston.
Class 3A boys
Tommy and Cavan Lyons of Ferndale played for the chance at fifth place but fell short, losing to Kevin Chen and Jonah Tang of Mercer Island, 6-1, 6-3.