Storm coach Joe O’Brien approached Kim Dorr and Rachel Dorr with an idea on the eve of the Class 2A State Tournament.
He wanted the twin sister doubles pairing to cement a state goal.
First time state qualifiers, the Dorrs initially suggested a trip to the state semifinals would suffice.
O’Brien offered loftier aspirations to the duo.
“He said, ‘No, we need a realistic goal. We are going to win this thing,’” Rachel recalled of O’Brien’s reaction to their semifinal objective. “We got all excited and bubbly. In that moment, that goal was real. We thought that we could achieve it, and that was really what we were fighting for.”
Throughout the entire girls’ tennis season, winning state never floated inside either of the Dorrs’ minds. The objective was always to take one match at a time and leave everything they had out on the court.
It might not have been until O’Brien made winning a state title seem plausible that the Dorrs themselves thought the accomplishment was attainable.
And the weekend the Dorrs put together during four matches May 29-30, at Seattle’s Nordstrom Tennis Center was truly remarkable.
“Every match we played to the last point, and we showed that throughout the whole state competition,” Kim said. “We are never going to give up, and we had that quality and perseverance of just being on our toes more than we have ever been.”
Three of the Dorrs’ four matches went to three sets, including the state final against Sehome’s Taylor Harris and Simone Hall, but a 6-4 victory in the third set after taking the first 6-3 and dropping the second 7-5, captured the Squalicum pair a Class 2A State Tournament doubles championship.
The tandem finished the season 24-2, losing only in the sub-district and district tournament final and were both All-Northwest Conference first-team selections.
For being the only Whatcom County tennis players to win an individual state title and putting together an all-around sensational season, Kim and Rachel have been selected The Bellingham Herald’s All-Whatcom County Girls’ Tennis Players of the Year.
Sehome coach Bonna Giller, who guided the Mariners to a team state championship with 33 points, has been chosen Coach of the Year.
“It never really became a reality to us (winning a state title) until the state tournament, once we won our first two matches,” Rachel said. “That’s when it clicked for us.”
In order to win a state championship, the Dorrs had to rectify their only two losses of the season. They’d lost to Sehome’s Natalie Knops and Andrea Zucchi in the sub-district title match and fell to Harris and Hall in the district title match.
The Dorrs beat Knops and Zucchi 6-2, 7-5 in the semis before getting the best of Harris and Hall in three sets.
“I have to say I love the girls at Sehome and Bellingham,” Kim said. “It’s awesome competing against them, and they make us better. Playing them throughout the (postseason) competition made us play better. There is only one winner, and it was pretty cool to represent your city and get that moment of glory.”
Chemistry is paramount for any state tournament doubles team, but arguably no pairing quite possessed the togetherness and drive to play for one another that the Dorrs exuded.
Such innate knowledge of how to deal with the emotional ebbs and flows of a tennis match is what set the duo apart from other teams. Besides growing up together, they’ve been playing against and with each other since fifth grade starting with Joe O’Brien’s Squalicum tennis camps.
“I think we just build each other up,” Rachel said. “We play for each other. In between points we always come together. We see how much the other one wants it, and being sisters you want to play for the other one. You want to make them proud.”
Kim’s ability to be there for Rachel was magnified this spring given Rachel was returning from a torn ACL sustained during club soccer spring 2014.
The duo showed plenty of promise as freshmen, but their development together met a roadblock when Kim partnered with Sarah Byron as Rachel looked on from the sideline their sophomore season.
“She really needed a solid support system and really got going into it quickly,” Kim said of how Rachel responded after missing a season. “It was not hard to get her back on her feet. I think this year, it was a lot more real to us that we could perform at a high level. The only way to do that was to play together.”
O’Brien preached aggressiveness all season, and the Dorrs implemented the attacking style. It was central to their success, and with Rachel’s strong forehand matched with Kim’s backhand and the duo’s strong net play, they became one of the premier doubles tandems in the Northwest Conference and eventually the best in the state,
“It was a great feeling to make Joe proud,” Kim said. “I think he saw a lot of potential in us. He saw where we could be when we didn’t even see it. ... I think we saw how much it meant to Joe. We were playing at a high level and it was a great feeling to make him proud and to bring home a state title, something he has never experienced before. That was one of the best feelings.”
Reach Andrew Lang at 360-756-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Sports Blog at bellinghamherald.com/sports-blog. Follow him on Twitter at @BhamSports and on Facebook at WhatcomCountySports.
Athletes the Year
For the 10th year, the Bellingham Herald is proud to celebrate Whatcom County high school student athletes with its All-Whatcom County teams. A look back at the athletes selected All-Whatcom County Girls’ Tennis Players of the Year:
2006: Erica Bosman, Lynden
2007: Molly Beaumont and Mandy Hatch, Bellingham
2008: Brandi Benner and Jill Tornonchuk, Lynden
2009: Brandi Benner and Jill Tornonchuk, Lynden
2010: Leah Strickling, Squalicum
2011: Bella Hoyos and Megan Mullarky, Bellingham
2012: Bella Hoyos, Bellingham
2013: Bella Hoyos, Bellingham
2014: Lauren Smith, Sehome
2015: Kim Dorr and Rachel Dorr, Squalicum
Athlete of the YearKim Dorr & Rachel Dorr
What they did: Made a tremendous postseason run to claim the Class 2A State Tournament doubles title with a three-set win over Sehome pairing Taylor Harris and Simone Hall. ... Earned three-set wins in three of four state matches. Lost only two matches all year, one in the sub-district final and one in the district tournament final. ... Displayed on-court chemistry synonymous with what one would expect from twin sisters. ... Both were first-team All-Northwest Conference selections.