Sports

Bucs tennis searching for stability

Kingston’s No. 1 singles player Jerol Bird has established himself as Kingston’s cornerstone player. - Brad Camp/Staff photo
Kingston’s No. 1 singles player Jerol Bird has established himself as Kingston’s cornerstone player.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff photo

POULSBO – They’re young. They’re fairly inexperienced. They don’t yet have tennis courts of their own to practice or compete on.

All three circumstances combined makes it difficult for Kingston’s boys tennis team to find its flow, which showed on the courts in recent matches.

After the Buccaneer boys won their first two matches against North Mason and a combined Chimacum/Port Townsend team, they’ve struggled to regain their footing.

Wednesday’s home contest against Klahowya, played on the North Kitsap High courts, proved to be another chapter in the same story, as Kingston dropped the game, 5-2.

“The singles seem to be hanging in there and doing a pretty good job. I need to mix it up and come up with some better doubles teams,” said head coach Ken Crawford. “They didn’t play bad, but it showed me they are a young team.”

No. 1 singles player Jerol Bird has established himself as Kingston’s cornerstone player. Crawford said he has beautiful form, moves well, he’s a kid with the whole package.

Glimmers of this were evident on Wednesday.

Although Bird was slightly off in his sets against Klahowya’s No. 1 singles player Jeff Jaeckel, he still pulled out the win, 6-3, 6-4, with a little crafty precision hitting and stamina.

As Jaeckel, whose speciality is returning the ball no matter what it might look like, ran near to the net, Bird took his time before connecting with the ball, which he aimed, at times, perfectly to the far back corners and out of Jaeckel’s reach. When Jaeckel waited at the back of the courts, Bird aimed near the net. The two volleyed long enough it was near hypnotic watching the ball glide back and forth, until more often than not, Bird wore Jaeckel down.

“Jerol is a much better player, but the kid (Jaeckel) was able to run them down. There was some frustration for Jerol thinking, ‘Geez, what do I have to do to put some of them away,’” Crawford said. “When Jerol is on it’s hard to pick out anything he’s weak on. He’s a kid that could go all the way, but everything has to come together and stay together.”

No. 2 singles player, Nick Anderson volleyed his way to a come-from-behind three set win. He lost the first set, 6-3 to Klahowya’s Bill Monroe.

Crawford pulled him aside to tell Anderson he wasn’t hitting through the ball and was playing a little slow. He needed to pick up his game and be more aggressive. Crawford used a creative incentive. Crawford told Anderson, who loves playing music, that if Anderson won the next two sets he’d bring in a tape of his old band and let Anderson watch it and have a chance to poke a little fun at coach.

Well, Anderson won the next two sets, 7-6, 6-4 and the match.

“He did pick it up and played more aggressive,” Crawford said. “He went more on the attack instead of defending the other kid’s shot.”

All four doubles teams lost in two sets, which is why Crawford is going to stir things up in this area.

A few additional players finally have enough practices in to play competitions. Today the boys will play challenge matches to determine who fleshes out the rearranged doubles teams, which Crawford is hopeful will help the Bucs at competitions.

Another change that will produce major benefits for Buccaneer tennis is the courts at Kingston High are nearly finished. Since tennis season began four weeks ago the boys must practice on the community courts. The whole team won’t fit so Crawford’s been running two rounds of practice. It’s a hassle and makes it difficult to work with the team, he said.

“I’m looking forward to just being able to get dressed and walking over there (courts at KHS) then we can build a consistent team. I’d like to have a home base,” he said. “I am hoping we can turn this around and end up with more wins. I’m not giving up.”

On Friday the Bucs hosted Olympic. Results of the match were not available at press time. On Monday the Bucs take on the NK Vikings at the courts at NKHS. Matches start at 4 p.m.

Kingston vs. Klahowya stats — No. 1 singles: Jerol Bird defeated Jeff Jaeckel 6-3, 6-4; No. 2 singles: Nick Anderson defeated Bill Monroe 3-6, 7-6, 6-4; No. 3 singles: Klahowya’s Eric Eley defeated Sam Shoemaker 6-7, 6-1, 6-1; No. 1 doubles: Klahowya’s Justin Duncan, Brandon Wheeler defeated Loren Klemesrud, Cody Combs, 6-2, 6-2; No. 2 doubles: Klahowya’s Joe Valley, Brandon Neet defeated Cameron Groh, Nathan Hirsh, 6-0, 7-5; No. 3 doubles: Klahowya’s Chris Frederick, Mark Barbossa defeated Chris Blesie, Morgan McCalister, 6-0, 6-3; and No. 4 doubles: Klahowya’s Phil Alessi, Sasha Morozo defeated Brady Sundquist, Eric Reichert 6-1, 6-3.

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