Tennis | Bainbridge brings experience to the court

Bainbridge senior Dylan Tull is one of 14 players on the boys varsity squad.  - Victoria Nguyen
Bainbridge senior Dylan Tull is one of 14 players on the boys varsity squad.
— image credit: Victoria Nguyen

With a deep returning lineup that went 15-3 in the 2009 season, coach Mike Anderson believes this could be the year the Spartans win their first Metro League title.

“It was an outstanding season for us – we only lost to (Seattle) Prep and Lakeside,” Anderson said. “Lakeside won the league last year and Prep came in second. We’ve never been able to beat Prep since we’ve been in this league.”

The Spartans fell to Seattle Prep 10-1 Monday, but will have another shot when they host the Panthers April 19.

Junior Grace Porter won the Spartans’ only point with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Katie Beyer at No. 1 singles.

Porter, who reached the state tournament the last two years, placed fourth last year.

Porter went 52-10 overall during her sophomore and junior seasons.

The arrival of Sasha Carter will move Porter to the No. 2 spot, Anderson said.

Carter, the 2008 1A singles state champion, transferred from Annie Wright Academy in Tacoma last year but a WIAA transfer rule made her ineligible, Anderson said.

Carter went undefeated as a freshman, and will likely match up with defending 3A state champion Natalie Allen when the Spartans host Holy Names and O’Dea Friday.

“At this point she’s never lost a high school match,” Anderson said of Carter. “Now she’s stepping up. This league and district are a lot more difficult.”

Senior Colleen Gruber, who played at No. 2 singles Monday, will shift to No. 3 against Holy Names.

“The top of our ladder is pretty strong but I’m a little concerned about the lower, inexperienced girls,” Anderson said.

Sophomores Kelly Zwicker and Kate Jameson return as the Spartans’ veteran doubles squad, and will play at the No. 1 spot.

“With the addition of Sasha, that raises us another level,” Anderson said. “We’re probably as deep on the boys side as we’ve ever been in terms of who can actually play tennis. I’m carrying 14 boys, so that makes it tough to get playing time, but they’re that good and I hope they can keep challenging each other to even get better.”

Senior Dylan Skeffington returns as the Spartans’ No. 1 singles player for the third year.

“Last year we did really well,” Skeffington said. “This year we’re hoping to improve upon that because we have pretty much the exact same team – we didn’t lose anybody but a few seniors, but they weren’t that high on the ladder.”

Skeffington, who went 12-11 last season, is one of seven boys varsity returners.

“Since my sophomore year we’ve had a really young team – I’ve generally been part of the upper group – so I don’t think my role has changed that much,” Skeffington said. “The team has been getting a lot better but in that respect it’s changed. You have a little more motivation to get organized and help everybody else out.”

Juniors Sam Claney and Scott Alderson filled the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles spots Monday.

“A boy that’s going to challenge those guys is Nate Parker,” Anderson said. “He’s really been working on his singles game.”

Four-year letter winner and co-captain Ian Saksa went 13-4 last season and played No. 2 doubles with Jake Christensen against Seattle Prep.

Skeffington, who has made it to the District meet twice, is looking forward to the Spartans’ April 16 home match against Lakeside.

“We think Lakeside is also going to be tough,” Skeffington said. “It’s going to be tough because in our league Bainbridge is the only public school. With a sport like tennis, it’s a bit of a disadvantage. For example Seattle Prep, I think I counted three or four professional coaches.”

The key to advancing in the post-season will be defeating the Metro’s dominant teams.

“We had an interesting start,” Skeffington said of the Seattle Prep match. “This time we didn’t do so well. For a lot of the people on our team it was the first match they’ve played in almost a year. As soon as we get some more match experience in we’ll have a better shot.”

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