Black heading back to state

Oak Harbor tennis player Theresa Black may have lost her first set of the year in last Friday’s district final, but she wasn’t going to let the district championship slip away.

Oak Harbor tennis player Theresa Black may have lost her first set of the year in last Friday’s district final, but she wasn’t going to let the district championship slip away.

Black rallied from a one-set deficit to beat Kamiak’s Nancy Hong 5-7, 6-3, 6-0 in the 4A Northwest District title match last Friday at Lake Stevens. The senior will be the Northwest District’s No. 1 seed at the 4A state tournament this weekend in Kennewick.

“It was a tough match for Theresa and it could have gone either way,” her head coach, Horace Mells, said about the championship bout. “Hong was a very good opponent.”

Black was up 5-3 in the first set against Hong before the Lady Knight took four straight games and rallied for a 7-5 win. For Black, who cruised through the regular season and the league tournament undefeated, it was the first set that she lost this season and forced her to switch up her game against Hong.

“Going into the match we identified some weaknesses from Hong’s game last year and planned on taking advantage of them,” Mells said. “When we watched her first match we realized that she didn’t have those weaknesses anymore.”

After losing the first set, Black regrouped and she and Mells devised a new strategy that worked. Black, who plays soccer on the Wildcat varsity squad in the fall, used her conditioning to wear Hong out.

“Theresa is very well conditioned and once she made it to the third set she had to be the favorite,” Mells said. “She just kept working and working and pretty soon she frustrated Hong. It was do-or-die and she just turned on the afterburners.”

Black overwhelmed Hong to win the next two sets 6-3, 6-0 to earn the district title. Last year Black took second at districts behind Blaze Wadum of Shorecrest.

“My goal for her at the beginning of the year to win district,” her coach said. “I’ve coached here four four years and we have had a district finalist each year but no one had won it yet until now. I think she had the same goal and she really wanted to win.”

The senior had no problems with her first two district contests, dispatching Shorewood’s Brittany Bell 6-1, 6-1 in the quarterfinals and Kamiak’s Tanya Ramfar 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals to advance to the final.

Now Black will try and improve on her ninth-place finish that she posted at the 4A state tournament last year. She faces Puyallup’s Michelle Sekyra her opening match, and according to Mells, the opening draw looks to be in Black’s favor.

“Her first opponent lost to Blaze Wadum in straight sets last year, and Theresa lost to Blaze in a three-set match at the district final, so Theresa might have the advantage,” he said. “I look at the bracket and I think she’s got a chance to go pretty far.”

This will be Black’s fourth appearance in the state tourney. She advanced in the doubles meet as a freshman and sophomore before going in singles last season.

Oak Harbor’s No. 2 singles player, junior Maggie Manucal, also made the district tournament but was eliminated after losing her first two matches. Despite the two losses, the experience should prepare Manucal for next season.

“She didn’t play the way she did last week at the division tournament,” Mells said. “She had some little injuries and they added up – her game was a little off. Now we’ll try and build on this and get her ready for next year.”

4A Northwest District Tennis meet

At Lake Stevens

Quarterfinals: Black (OH) def. Bell (SW) 6-1, 6-1; Bruce (SW) def. Manucal (OH) 6-4, 6-1.

Semifinals: Black (OH) def. Remfar (Kam.) 6-3, 6-1.

Consolation: Li (Cas.) def Manucal (OH) 6-3, 6-0.

Finals: Black (OH) def. Hong (Kam.) 5-7, 6-3, 6-0.