The first two rounds of Class 2A Northwest District Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 18, proved that no matter what a player’s style is, if they play within their game they have a good chance to win.
If that style is to talk to each other on every shot in doubles, calling out where a partner needs to be positioned, that can work as Sehome’s Henry Han and Dane Faris showed in their three-set win at Western Washington University’s tennis courts.
Han and Faris used great communication in the first set to hold off Burlington-Edison’s Dante Zimmerman and Max Cook in a 6-4 set win. Han called out to his partner where to move as he returned each hit, and Faris was able to capitalize on the good positioning.
In the second set, the duo’s communication continued even as they were unable to get any offense going. Zimmerman and Cook cut down on their errors and forced the Mariners’ pairing to make errors of their own on long rallies en route to a 6-1 set win for the Tigers.
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“In the second set they were playing really aggressive at the net,” Han said. “They were not making many errors and we were beating ourselves out. We were hitting them over the line and into the net; we just couldn’t get it over.”
It looked like the final set would be very similar to the second and Cook and Zimmerman jumped out to a quick 4-2 lead. This time Faris called out spots to Han, who was able to redirect short lobs at the net to tie the set at 4-all.
Each Sehome player made impressive plays as they cruised through the final two points to win the set and match 6-4.
“We play a lot on momentum. When we’re up, we’re up. When we’re down, we’re down,” Han said. “So we picked up some energy in the third and got going. We got pumped, the ball stayed in, we made them make the errors and that proved enough to win. On the lobs we want to talk a lot to get in good position to capitalize and make the point.”
Sehome coach Bonna Giller thought the duo just got ahead of themselves a bit.
“I think they cared more about winning the match than playing each point,” Giller said. “I think they lost their focus. Our mantra is to play a point at a time and I think they were looking at the end of the set and forgot to play. They turned around and had to really battle.”
In a stark contrast of styles, Liam Brownlie and Carter Nickelson of Squalicum seemed to know exactly where the other was without talking a lot on the court. After splitting the first sets with an Anacortes team 6-4, 3-6, the pair prepared for the deciding set.
“We really just lost focus and started hitting the ball in the net. Neither of us could serve really well,” Nickelson said. “We didn’t have a good gameplan going into the second set.”
They used good momentum to take the first point easily, but serving errors tied the set at 2-all. Nickelson used good net play and positioning in the fifth and sixth games to make it 4-2.
Anacortes had some good serves and stalled the Storm duo’s momentum a bit to make them work for the final points, but Brownlie and Nickelson pulled out the mostly-silent victory, 6-3.
“We just really changed our attitudes. We were getting down on ourselves in the second set, too, so we just kept it positive,” Nickelson said. “I had a senior partner last year, so I didn’t know what I was going to do this year, but Liam has been a good fit. His serves really complement my net game.”
Another method that proved efficient on Saturday was Austin Shenton’s plan to force his opponent to make the mistakes in their match at Sehome High School.
The Bellingham singles player dropped the first set of his second round matchup 6-3 because he tried to do too much, he said.
“I was just not hitting it in the court consistently, trying to go too big, not getting my first serve in and trying to hit it too big,” Shenton said, listing his errors in the first set. “Not really playing my game, which is to make my opponent beat me and not beat myself.”
In the second set, Shenton hustled around the court to extend rallies and forced Archbishop Murphy’s Houston Schmutz to make errors, jumping out to a 3-1 lead. Schmutz matched Shenton’s hustle with through-the-legs returns and a diving effort on a return that resulted in a bloody elbow for the Wildcats’ singles player.
“He hit the ball smarter, in smarter spots,” Bellingham coach Steve Chronister said, “and I think that’s what made it lean his way. He knows how to do that though, we’ve seen him do it before.”
Shenton was able to continue extending rallies and didn’t try to play over his head to win the set 6-4 and the final set 6-3.
Joining Shenton in advancing to second-day action in the quarterfinals are Nishaant Limaye from Shorecrest, Bellingham’s Charlie Carmichael and Connor Thompson, Burlington-Edison’s Kristopher Nilsen and Colton Saben, and Sehome’s Max Shmotolokha and Brady Anderson.
Both the Brownlie/Nickelson team and the Faris/Han team advanced to Monday’s quarterfinal round, along with Bellingham teams Logan Schilder/Nate Pearsall and Chris Nakatani/Zach Nolan, Sehome’s Reece Gilbert/Darren Ma, Squalicum’s Drew Segren/Kevin Smiley, Lynden’s Dakota Davis/Ben Mulder, and a Shorecrest team.
Matches are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 20, at Sehome and WWU.
Class 2A Northwest District Tournament
At Sehome High School and Western Washington University
First round: MJ Park (Archbishop Murphy) def. KJ Rutherford (Sedro-Woolley) 6-0, 6-0; Colton Saben (Burlington-Edison) def. Derek Vance (Anacortes) 6-3, 6-2; Neal Crawford (Squalicum) def. Christopher King (Shorecrest) 6-2, 6-1; Jake Goldstein (Shorecrest) def. Connor McCandless (Sedro-Woolley) 6-2, 6-1; George Ashley (Squalicum) def. Marcus McKee (Lynden) 6-4, 6-4; Seth Weidenaar (Lynden) def. Patrick Kian (Anacortes) 6-0, 6-1; Jared Rapp (Squalicum) def. Eli Moore (Anacortes) 6-0, 6-0; Kristopher Nilsen (Burlington-Edison) def. Blaine Hindman (Sedro-Woolley) 6-0, 6-0; Austin Shenton (Bellingham) def. Kevin Liu (Sehome) 6-1, 6-1; Houston Schmutz (Archbishop Murphy) def. Dylan Meenk (Lynden) 7-6 (5), 6-1; Ryan Edson (Burlington-Edison) def. Ryan Castillo (Archbishop Murphy) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
Second round: Nishaant Limaye (Shorecrest) def. MJ Park (Archbishop Murphy) 6-0, 6-0; Colton Saben (Burlington-Edison) def. Neal Crawford (Squalicum) 6-0, 6-3; Charlie Carmichael (Bellingham) def. Jake Goldstein (Shorecrest) 6-3, 6-3; Connor Thompson (Bellingham) def. George Ashley (Squalicum) 6-2, 6-1; Brady Anderson (Sehome) def. Seth Weidenaar (Lynden) 6-0, 6-0; Kristopher Nilsen (Burlington-Edison) def. Jared Rapp (Squalicum) 6-1, 6-1; Austin Shenton (Bellingham) def. Houston Schmutz (Archbishop Murphy) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3; Max Shmotolokha (Sehome) def. Ryan Edson (Burlington-Edison) 6-0, 6-0.
First round: Cole Herdman/Luke Reinschmidt (Squalicum) def. Hudson/Doorn (Sedro-Woolley) 6-1, 6-4; Buse/Jones (Sedro-Woolley) def. Pretorious/Martin (Archbishop Murphy) 6-1, 6-0; Dane Faris/Henry Han (Sehome) def. Dante Zimmerman/Max Cook (Burlington-Edison) 6-4, 1-6, 6-4; Campbell/Manion (Anacortes) def. Zhu/Shibayama (Shorecrest) 5-7, 7-5, 6-3; Browning/Dykstra (Burlington-Edison) def. Shepard/Patrick (Anacortes) 6-0, 6-0; Jo Meppelink/Cameron Muljat (Lynden) def. Parafina/Van Hollebeke (Archbishop Murphy) 6-1, 6-3; Field/VanPutten (Burlington-Edison) def. Bradford/Thompson (Sedro-Woolley) 6-3, 7-5; Chris Nakatani/Zach Nolan (Bellingham) def. Austin Fullner/Ty Hoekstra (Lynden) 6-2, 6-0; Liam Brownlie/Carter Nickelson (Squalicum) def. Huntley/Higgins (Anacortes) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3; Aaron Goldfogel/William Zhang (Sehome) def. Brandt/Damitio (Archbishop Murphy) 7-5, 6-4; Henry Ziels/Lucas Irwin (Bellingham) def. Donnelly/Hong (Shorecrest) 6-0, 6-1.
Second round: Nate Pearsall/Logan Schilder (Bellingham) def. Cole Herdman/Luke Reinschmidt (Squalicum) 6-1, 6-3; Dane Faris/Henry Han (Sehome) def. Buse/Jones (Sedro-Woolley) 6-2, 6-3; Reece Gilbert/Darren Ma (Sehome) def. Campbell/Manion (Anacortes) 6-1, 6-1; Dakota Davis/Ben Mulder (Lynden) def. Browning/Dyskstra (Burlington-Edison) 6-0, 6-2; Wacker/North (Shorecrest) def. Jo Meppelink/Cameron Muljat (Lynden) 6-0, 6-0; Chris Nakatani/Zach Nolan (Bellingham) def. Field/VanPutten (Burlington-Edison) 6-2, 6-1; Liam Brownlie/Carter Nickelson (Squalicum) def. Aaron Goldfogel/William Zhang (Sehome) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2; Drew Segren/Kevin Smiley (Squalicum) def. Henry Ziels/Lucas Irwin (Bellingham) 6-0, 6-2.