"Beam shines, takes fifth at state"

"During the regular tennis season, Bainbridge sophomore Elliot Beam played second fiddle to teammate Erik Hansen.In the post-season, though, Beam came out of hiding and showed that he belongs among the state's elite players, finishing fifth in the state 3A tournament.Last Friday, Beam won his first two matches in the state 3A tournament to go into Saturday's semifinals. And although he lost his matches Saturday, he made his statement.Making the semifinals was a tremendous accomplishment, Bainbridge coach Mike Anderson said. The rest was gravy.Beam went into the 16-player state tournament as the top seed from the district, having beaten Hansen in the district finals. It was the first meeting between the teammates because Beam did not challenge Hansen for the No. 1 spot on the Spartan squad.Beam's first opponent was Sunny Samuel of Everett, and Beam polished him off, 6-1, 6-0.Then Beam faced Sean Dolan of O'Dea, a formidable left-hander. Playing perhaps his best tennis of the year, Beam didn't simply win - he dominated, claiming a 6-2, 6-1 victory.I took him out of the game, Beam said. I made him be more aggressive, and he made more errors.That put Beam into Saturday morning's semifinal against Chad Dierickx of Mercer Island, who lost a three-set championship match last year to Bainbridge's Charles Thompson.Based on that runner-up finish last year, Dierickx was one of the favorites for this year's title. Because Dolan had beaten Dierickx in district play, and Beam beat Dolan, it looked like Beam had a good chance.In the end, Dierickx's state-tournament experience proved decisive, as he claimed a 6-1, 5-7, 6-0 win.Elliot's nerves were showing a little bit in the first set, coach Anderson said. He was thinking too much. Dierickx got about 90 percent of his first serves in, and didn't make any errors.Before Beam could settle down, Dierickx had taken a 6-1 win in the first set. But then Beam battled back.He relaxed a little bit, got his momentum and basically outlasted him, Anderson said, as Beam claimed a 7-5 win.In the third set, though, Dierickx put his own game back together, and began controlling the pace of play. The result was a 6-0 victory. Fatigue was a big factor in the third set.I ran out of energy, Beam said.The fatigue only got worse in Beam's Saturday afternoon match for third place, as he bowed to Seattle Prep's Jeff Blasingame 6-1, 6-0.Blasingame is just a machine, Anderson said. He doesn't miss, and hits constant deep ground strokes. It was really pretty even, but Elliot couldn't win the big points.I was really tired, Beam said. I couldn't move my feet at all.The other Spartan entrant, Erik Hansen, didn't get any favors in the matchups. His second-place district finish matched him against Mercer Island's super freshman Chris Floyd in the first round. The result: a 6-0, 6-0 loss.He's really on a different level than the other players, Anderson said of Floyd, who won the tournament without dropping a set. If he doesn't go to a tennis academy or something like that, he could win four straight years.Hansen agreed. He's consistent, and he makes no errors, Hansen said. At the moment, he's the best around.Hansen came back in the consolation round with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Ian Shaffer of Columbia River. But he then met Dolan, who was smarting from his loss to Beam. Dolan beat Hansen 6-1, 6-0.I was tired, coming off a tight match, said Hansen, who will attend the University of Colorado next year and play intramural sports.Ironically, Dolan came back through the consolation bracket to claim fourth place in the tournament, one spot ahead of Beam, who beat him decisively.Both our boys had great seasons, Anderson said. Hansen's overall record, including tournaments and matches, was something like 17-6. In most sports, you'd look at a 17-6 record and say you had a great year."

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