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After the Spartan tennis team dominated the Olympic League, amassing a 40-2 record in their last three years and losing only to Port Angeles, the netters find themselves in the middle of the pack as they open their first Metro League season.
The upshot, as coach Mike Anderson puts it, is that this year will be a long way from our old sub-district with Sequim.
Metro is divided into three weighted divisions. Division A is Blanchet, Holy Names/ODea, Lakeside and Seattle Prep, while the Spartans join Ballard, Eastside Catholic, Nathan Hale and Chief Sealth in the B division. C division teams are Cleveland, Ingraham, Rainier Beach and West Seattle.
The A teams play each other twice and the Bs once, the Bs play everyone once and the Cs play each other twice and the Bs once.
To determine the Metro team champion, the A winner plays the C winner, while the A runnerup plays the B champion. The winners of those two matches play for the first place trophy on May 1.
Two days later the individual sub-district tournament begins, with the top finishers advancing to District. Its a five-day, 32-slot bracket in which every school is assured of at least two positions.
It adds up to a lot of tennis after the regular season, Anderson said.
The Spartans should be ready.
This is the most depth weve ever had, said Anderson, as he began the season with a record turnout of 56 hopefuls. Every year were getting more and more kids with solid strokes. Now its a matter of putting them in the right positions and partnerships.
That process is somewhat more complicated than in the Olympic League, because Metro plays three singles matches and two doubles matches for both boys and girls, in addition to a mixed doubles match. That means 16 players, rather than the Olympic Leagues 10.
So well carry at least 20 on the varsity, Anderson said.
Each team submits a ladder to the league office, and the top two boys and girls must play singles. In addition, neither player in mixed can be ranked higher than No. 6.
The Spartans get a quick look at the improved competition in Metro, as they open on Monday at Seattles Lower Woodland Park against ODea which has two players ranked in the top 20 in their age group in the Northwest and Holy Names. The home opener is Thursday at 3:30 p.m. against Chief Sealth.
Senior tri-captain Elliot Beam and junior Sam Marshall lead the boys. Beam is a two-time District 3 singles winner who compiled a 9-5 overall record last year, playing much of the season with a back injury from which hes now fully recovered. Marshall was 16-2, going undefeated in league play and just missing state with his third-place district finish.
Behind them are four more letter winners: senior Trenton Gibbons and juniors Pat Bradshaw, Jonathan Beukes and Brandon Weiss. Others likely to see varsity action are senior Peter Wells, juniors Jake Kanev, Cameron Post and Tyler Johnston, sophomore Taylor Gibbons and freshman Hank Hobbs.
Senior tri-captain Kristen Carmel, who advanced to State with now-graduated doubles partner Jessica Antilla and compiled a 12-4 record last year, leads the girls.
Junior Maggie Fick, with a 15-2 record last year primarily in No. 2 singles, will fill that role again this year. Like Marshall, she came within a match of going to state.
The four other returning letter winners are seniors Katie Beck, tri-captain Jen Bradshaw and Sara Suffis and junior Amanda Allender.
Freshman Whitney Cheng has made an immediate impact, moving up to the third slot on the team ladder. Seniors Sarah Frazee and Chloe Schlichter, junior Elle Clark and sophomore Tessa Quigley will also play varsity.
Coached by Irva Cooper, the junior varsity team girls include sophomores Natalie McMahon, Ciara Maes and Emily White and freshmen Marietta Crockett, Gwen Gottlieb, Jocelyn Moody, Katie Moore and Ali White.
JV boys are juniors Sloan Rehder, Wes Remmer, Jon Rochelle and Landon Winget.
Sophomores are Eric Baker, Peter Bech, Brad Girtz, Noah Grant, Alex Hoelting, Jordan Lewis, Jacob Pauli and Nick Sheldon.
Freshmen boys include Jesse Burk-Refel, Daniel Donohue, Kevin Goetsch, Ben Johnson, Alex Marlantes, Ben Miller, Brian Pinto, Andrew Waldron, Jeremy Watson and Cameron Weiss.