Spring sports preview: Coupeville tennis

This spring brings a season of change for the Coupeville High School girls tennis team.

For years the Cascade Conference Wolves and Friday Harbor of the Northwest League were the only two 1A schools in the district. The pair formed their own two-team league and decided the title in a best two-out-of-three showdown. They would meet again at district to determine who would move on in the state playoffs.

South Whidbey and its traditionally strong tennis team dropped to the 1A classification this year and challenges Coupeville’s district dominance.

Gone too is the cozy Friday Harbor-Coupeville league. The Wolves, along with South Whidbey, now join Lakewood, Granite Falls and Archbishop Murphy in Cascade Conference tennis.

For years Coupeville played South Whidbey and Granite Falls in nonleague games, but the other schools give a freshness to the schedule. The slate also includes new opponents Blaine and Chimacum.

Coach Ken Stange said, “It’s exciting to play the other schools. It’s difficult to anticipate challenges we will face from the schools we’ve never played before. Undoubtedly, ATM has some girls that play year-round indoor tennis; they should be quite good this season. Lakewood is always tough in sports, as is Granite Falls. South Whidbey is always an excellent foe.”

Even with all the changes, the rivalry with Friday Harbor will remain.

Stange said, “I always cherish wins over Friday Harbor. It would be nice to steal a win from South Whidbey as well.”

For Stange, the season isn’t all about wins and losses: “My goal is for the girls to find continuous improvement in their games while having fun. If our girls play well, they will have the opportunity to win matches.”

One of the team’s strength’s is its size, Stange said. With 28 players, the Wolves will have plenty of depth. A weakness, according to Stange, is a lack of experience. Nineteen of the girls, including 10 freshmen, are new to the sport.

Stange is optimistic that “quite a few will develop into solid players.”

Not all are new. Four full-time varsity players return, anchored by three-time district doubles champion senior Amanda d’Almeida. Also returning are last year’s No. 2 singles player junior Allie Hanigan and doubles players senior Holly Craggs and sophomore Julia Meyers.

D’Almeida, Stange said, will most likely move into the No. 1 singles slot this season.

Belgian exchange student Iris Rychaert will challenge Hanigan for No. 2 singles. One will join Craggs in No. 1 doubles.

Myers is coming off knee surgery, and although not medically cleared to compete yet, should get clearance soon.

Others most likely to fill out the varsity roster are senior Emily Gallahar; sophomores Jacki Ginnings, Micky Levine, Ivy Luvera and Ana Luvera; and freshmen Sydney Autio and McKenzie Bailey.

Stange said of d’Almeida’s switch to singles: “This season will be challenging… but I think she will rise to the occasion. She is tenacious, and she covers the court more quickly than most.”

While Coupeville’s schedule has a new look, it will open with a familiar foe. The Wolves start the season at Friday Harbor at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 12.

Ten of the Wolves’s 14 matches will be played at home, the first coming with Archbishop Murphy at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 13.

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