Sehome’s self-proclaimed “odd ducklings” emerged as doubles swans while earning repeat trips to the Class 2A State Girls’ Tennis Tournament.
Simone Hall and Taylor Harris, seniors who were on opposite sides in the state doubles title match last year, beat talented teammates Natalie Knops and Andrea Zucchi 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, in a stirring Northwest District semifinal on Monday, May 18, at Sehome.
The Hall/Harris team will play for the district title at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 19, on the same court against Squalicum’s identical Dorr twins, juniors Kim and Rachel.
The Dorrs rallied to beat Bellingham’s Mariah Miller and Ellie Iwersen in another long match 5-7 6-2, 6-2, giving the Dorrs a state spot as they rebounded from their lone loss of the season at sub-districts.
Only three doubles teams will advance to state, so Knops/Zucchi and Miller/Iwersen will be among four teams fighting for survival in the consolation semifinals, followed by finals Tuesday.
In singles, Sehome senior Andrea Clawson earned her third state trip while winning a classic 2-hour, 15-minute two-set marathon with a monumental tiebreaker over junior teammate Ali Morrow 7-5, 7-6 (10-8).
Clawson will face junior teammate Lauren Smith, last year’s state runner-up, for the district title. Smith (20-0), who will be in her third state tournament, won her sixth consecutive straight-sets post-season match while beating Sedro-Woolley’s Kassidee Beuse 6-0, 6-0.
Morrow, fifth at state as a sophomore, will be among four players competing for the third singles spot at state.
Hall, who went unbeaten at No. 3 singles in the regular season, said she much prefers playing doubles. She knew she would need a different partner to defend the state doubles title, since Lizzie Friesen is studying in France, but Hall did not know her new partner would be Harris, who played with sister Madison last season.
Madison, though, has been sidelined by illness, although she was on the scene and gave a huge victory hug to Taylor.
“Madison is really proud of us,” Taylor said. “Her support means everything. She is a great sister.”
Taylor, referring to how she originally dubbed her team-up with Hall as “odd ducklings,” laughed and said, “We’re real now.”
Hall agreed, saying “We really are a team now.”
They said they needed to “slow down” the match, especially in the third set, to withstand a spirited challenge from senior Knops and junior Zucchi.
“They are such strong players, especially at the net,” Hall said.
The Dorr twins, thrilled to be playing together in the postseason for the first time, said aggressiveness was vital in their comeback while overcoming friends in Bellingham senior Miller and sophomore Iwersen.
“I’m beyond words about going to state for the first time,” said Rachel, who missed last season with a knee injury. “Right now, it’s kind of surreal. I’m so proud of Kim. She had really consistent strokes.”
Kim — whose consistency helped produce a 6-0, 6-0 win over Granite Falls’ Annie Hart/McKenzie Meyer in the opening round — agreed that district competition is first rate.
“It’s hard coming from such a strong district, where it’s not obvious who’s the better team,” Kim said.
Robert Mann, coach of district newcomer Shorecrest, still has a state-hopeful team in Rachel Stevens and Lauren Rutter, who will play for survival against Knops and Zucchi in the consolation semifinals.
“I’m pretty impressed by how well they (the Whatcom County) girls move,” Mann said. “They’re quick on their feet and have good reactions skills at the net. They’re aggressive.”
To win the marathon tiebreaker against Morrow in singles, Clawson hit a wicked approach shot down the line.
“Ali might have played her best of the season,” said Clawson of Morrow. “Her serves were on fire.”
Likewise, Morrow praised Clawson: “Andrea played really well. It was a pleasure to play her. For a straight-sets match, that was pretty long.”
In the opening round, Clawson shut out Lakewood’s Christina Barber 6-0, 6-0, and Morrow swept Archbishop Murphy’s Courtney Skalley 6-1, 6-2. In the consolation semifinals Tuesday, Beuse will face Barber and Morrow will meet Anacortes’ Nicole McInerney.
Smith, who shut out McInerney 6-0 6-0 in the opening round, said she was pleased how her patience and the accuracy of her serves had improved quickly.
If Morrow and the Knops-Andrea Zucchi team advance, it will give Sehome seven girls at state, one year after the Mariners sent an unprecedented nine.
“I’m super impressed and happy with our play,” Sehome coach Bonna Giller said. “We have already clinched the district championship, but we have two important matches Tuesday. And our other doubles team (sophomore Hailey Holland and freshman Mia Zucchi) played their hearts out (in two losses).”
Holland/Mia Zucchi fell to Knops/Andrea Zucchi in the opening round 6-1, 6-1, then lost to Granite Falls’ Hailey Arndt/Katelyn Gresli 7-5, 7-5 in a match that displayed the Sehome pair’s potential.
Bellingham coach Steve Chronister was impressed with how the Miller/Iwersen team came back from a 5-1 first-set deficit to beat Shorecrest’s Stevens/Rutter 7-6 (7-3), 6-1.
“We had some good moments today, but they (Squalicum’s Dorrs) kept getting better and better as the (semifinal) match went on,” he said. “So give them credit. I think any of the remaining doubles teams could do well at state.”
CLASS 2A GIRLS’ SUB-DISTRICT TENNIS
Quarterfinals: Lauren Smith (Sehome) def. Nicole McInerny (Anacortes) 6-0, 6-0; Kassidee Beuse (Sedro-Woolley) def. Laura Braswell (Archbishop) 6-1, 6-1; Andrea Clawson (Sehome) def. Christina Barber (Lakewood) 6-0, 6-0; Ali Morrow (Sehome) def. Courtney Skalley (Archbishop) 6-1, 6-2.
Semifinals: Smith def. Beuse 6-1, 6-2; Clawson def. Morrow 7-5, 7-6 (10-8).
Consolation first round: McInerney def. Braswell 6-1, 6-1; Barber def. Skalley 6-1, 6-2.
Quarterfinals: Andrea Knops/Andrea Zucchi (Sehome) def. Hailey Holland/Mia Zucchi (Sehome) 6-1, 6-1; Taylor Harris/Simone Hall (Sehome) def. Hailey Arndt/Katelyn Gresli (Granite Falls) 6-0, 6-0; Kim Dorr/Rachel Dorr (Squalicum) def. Annie Hart/McKenzie Meyer (Granite Falls) 6-0, 6-0; Mariah Miller/Ellie Iwersen (Bellingham) def. Rachel Stevens/Lauren Rutter (Shorecrest) 7-6 (7-3), 6-1.
Semifinals: Harris/Hall def. Knops/A. Zucchi 6-4, 5-7, 6-3; Dorr/Dorr def. Iwersen/Miller 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.
Consolation first round: Arndt/Gresli def. Holland/M. Zucchi 7-5, 7-5; Stevens/Rutter def. Hart/Meyer 6-2, 6-0.