KINGSTON — Kati Schwabe’s plan was to head back to Germany before the 2013 spring sports season began.
Schwabe, a student from Dusseldorf, Germany, is participating in the Aspect Foundation’s exchange program. She was scheduled to be in Kitsap County for five months but decided to stay for 10 months — a decision that could benefit the Kingston High School girls varsity tennis team.
Schwabe is Kingston’s No. 1 varsity singles player. She took the spot from varsity player Becca McNurney, the No. 1 singles player last season.
The team “lucked out,” Kingston head coach Terry Grimm said.
“I didn’t bribe her or anything,” Grimm said, laughing. “All I said is, ‘If you decide to stay, we’d love to have you’ … and she decided to stay.”
And with Klahowya’s state champion singles player Tracy Landram now graduated, Grimm said Schwabe could have a good chance at State.
Schwabe has played tennis for more than six years. In Germany, public schools do not have school sports; all sports are club sports.
Schwabe began playing as a hobby player, about once a week. However, her interest in the sport quickly increased, along with her ability. She soon began playing in tournaments and has won a few championships.
Schwabe has a lot of power behind her shot, Grimm said.
“The balls just whizz by other players,” Grimm said.
McNurney said Schwabe has taught her a lot on the court. The exchange student’s appearance on the team was a surprise.
Kingston has several exchange students from Germany; McNurney had no idea one of them was a tennis player.
Exchange students have tried out for the team in the past but typically play junior varsity, Grimm said.
“I didn’t know any exchange students here played tennis,” McNurney said. “Coach Grimm said, ‘You know, there’s an exchange student that’s trying out, and she’s going to steal your spot.’ ”
“Kati teaches me a lot,” McNurney added. “I’m glad she’s here.”
McNurney competed in the West Central District III Tournament in 2012. The tournament is the qualifier for State. However, she lost in two matches. She had seeded into the tournament as No. 2 from the Olympic League.
Though Grimm said Schwabe has a fighting chance to compete at State, Schwabe is not sure. Schwabe said she does want to go to State: “It would be really awesome … so cool,” she said.
Schwabe competed on the cross country team in the fall. However, she did not participate in sports in winter. Up until joining the Kingston team, she didn’t get many chance to play tennis.
“I was out of form, but now I’m getting back into it and enjoying it even more,” Schwabe said.
Schwabe heads back to Germany in June, which gives her enough time to compete in the 2013 postseason and other end-of-the-year activities.
Kingston was scheduled to play North Mason Thursday. The team next travels to Port Townsend April 10, after spring break.