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Doubles team dedication
Bryana Bohl and Kelsey Grunigen both picked up tennis rackets for competitive play their freshman year of high school.
Four years later, the doubles partners were in the Nordstrom Tennis Center competing for the 2A State Championship and would finish third place in the 2A division on May 28.
“Honestly, the whole thing is kind of a blur,” Grunigen said. “It just seems so surreal.”
After their performance last year, Grunigen said she and Bohl began going to the Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Center almost “religiously” — attending about four times per week, on top of team practice. For the past few months the two have continuously played to reach their goal.
Bohl and Grunigen took the second seed at state after losing to Kingston’s Lindsay Wicklain and Erika Daniels during the District competition. Both teams went to state, along with sixth seeded North Kitsap double team Ana Yee and Taylor Skansi. Two days of competition later, however, Bohl and Grunigen would be the last girls tennis team left standing.
“It was pretty stressful, but we really wanted to win,” Bohl said. “The mental and physical game was difficult.”
The two faced teams they had never met before, including West Valley High School and the doubles team of Anh Phan and Dru Sanchez, which would take them out of the running for first and second. Along with the unknown, any mistakes are magnified when playing at state, Grunigen said.
Bohl and Grunigen were the first athletes under coach Vic Nelson to make a state appearance since he began four years ago. Hard work is what paid off for them, he said.
“They were inspired to make it to state,” Nelson said. “They put in a lot of extra effort and time.”
Bohl and Grunigen were somewhat accustomed to pressure after playing for the 2A Volleyball Championship in the fall. A long-lasting friendship on and off the court helped as well — the two have played volleyball together since eighth grade — and helps them communicate.
“You know how each other moves and plays and what kind of emotions you’ll express,” Grunigen said. “When it comes down to a really nail-biting match, you know what you have to tell your partner for them to stay sane.”
Pre-match rituals have also developed. Eating eggs before a match, massages and matching clothing are just a few. Before beginning a new match, they both re-grip their rackets — it must be white, Wilson pro Overgrip.
First or second would have been an accomplishment, however, Grunigen is not sure she would prefer second over third. Because finishing second at state means losing the final match of the season, third is more enjoyable.
“Being able to say we won our last match for third was better than losing for second,” Grunigen said.
Bohl and Grunigen faced Interlake’s Chelsea Bucklin and Amy Yasutake for third place. A loss would mean a sixth-place finish.
Not only was the match against Interlake their final match of the season, it was the final match of their high school careers. But the two are not done competing. Bohl and Grunigen plan to join the tennis club at Western Washington University.
“It will be fun,” Bohl said.