D'Almeida, Blanchette, Burchfield win district titles | Tennis
By JIM WALLER
Whidbey News Times Sports editor
May 14, 2012 · 9:23 AM
Qualifying for the tri-district tournament is becoming routine for Coupeville doubles player Amanda d'Almeida.
D'Almeida, a junior, earned her third consecutive doubles crown and berth into tri-district by winning the district title in Coupeville Friday, May 11.
She will be joined at tri-district by her partner Lexi Blanchette and district singles champion Emily Burchfield. For Blanchette and Burchfield, it will be their first trip to tri-district.
The district champions received automatics berths to tri-district, which is 8 a.m. Thursday, May 17, at the Amy Yee Tennis Center in Seattle.
Second-place finishers can qualify for tri-district by winning a play-in match Monday, May 14. That includes Coupeville singles player Allie Hanigan. Hanigan finished third at district in singles, but will get a shot in the play-in match at 3 p.m. in Coupeville because the district runner up is unable to attend tri-district.
One opposing coach called d'Almeida and Blanchette a "buzz saw" as the pair ripped through the doubles competition. They opened by routing Friday Harbor's Lita Gislason and Ashton Timmons 6-0, 6-0, and then closed by thumping Friday Harbor's McKenzie Satin and Katherine Dietzmen 6-2, 6-0.
Coach Ken Stange said, "My top doubles team has had a simple goal all season long: play well enough and win the matches necessary to gain entry to the state tournament. Today they moved one step closer…They were supposed to win, but I was pleased with how they are playing more like a single entity than a pair of players on the same side of the net. "
In the other first-round doubles match, Satin and Dietzmen edged Coupeville's Grayson Akins and Holly Craggs 7-6(7-4), 3-6, 7-5.
Stange said, "If one match was a heartbreaker today, this was definitely the one."
The Coupeville pair bounced back to defeat Gislason and Timmons 6-3, 6-2 for third.
Stange said, "It was excellent to see Grayson and Holly end their season with a win…Not too many people can say that. Holly will be back next year but Grayson will be missed. She's a four-time letter winner and has been a major contributor."
Burchfield began her journey to tri-district by dumping Nooksack Valley's Abbi Steele 6-2, 6-0.
Stange said, "Emily got off to a bit of a rocky start, but once she got dialed in, she was dominant and in control."
In the eighth and final meeting between two seniors, Burchfield defeated Friday Harbor's Rebecca Leff 6-3, 7-7(7-5) for the singles title.
Last year Burchfield topped Leff three times before falling to her at district. This year, Leff won the first meeting, then Burchfield took the final three.
Stange said, "When two people play tennis as often as Rebecca and Emily do, it becomes more than the average match. They know each other's tendencies, they seek ways to exploit weaknesses, it becomes personal…(and) mutual respect grows.
Leff reached the finals by defeating Hanigan 6-2, 6-0.
Stange said, "The match seemed much closer than the score would indicate. Many games went to deuce."
Hanigan grabbed third by defeating Steele 6-0 , 6-2.
Stange said, "It's going to be exciting to watch her grow as a player."Contact Whidbey News Times Sports editor Jim Waller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5060.