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Boys tennis players back on the court for state championships
POULSBO — Richie Sander had every right to be tired last Saturday.
The Kingston High sophomore pulled double duty that day. In addition to being the winning pitcher in the Kingston baseball team’s first-round state playoff victory over Sehome High, he clinched a state tournament berth in tennis.
“He’s just a real special kid; a real talented athlete,” Kingston baseball coach Scott McKay said. “In some ways, it’s not a big surprise that he’d be able to do all that.”
Sander began the day at 5 a.m., driving to Auburn High School for the second day of the West Central District’s Class 2A tennis tournament. He and teammate Trevor Shuey, a junior, qualified for the tournament last fall, during Kingston High’s boys tennis season.
“It was pretty strange, because I hadn’t been playing too much tennis,” Sander, who also plays basketball, said. “I was actually pretty surprised how it came back to me.”
Sander and Shuey had already won their first two matches in the tournament, the day before.
“We were feeling pretty confident going into the tournament,” Shuey said.
The duo needed one more victory to qualify for the state meet, and they got it that morning, in a tie-break. The win also qualified them for the district championship match, scheduled for later that day.
But there was no time to celebrate. Sander raced across town to Auburn Mountainview High, where the Kingston baseball team was already in the third inning of their state tournament game against Sehome. Sander came in to pitch in the fifth inning, with his team clinging to a 10-9 lead. He gave up two runs early, but his teammates fought back to score two of their own. Leading 12-11, Sander did not allow Sehome to score again and held on for the win.
Afterward, Sander went back to join Shuey for the championship tennis match. The pair lost, but took the No. 2 seed to state.
“The arm was a little sore,” Sander said of the match. “We were just grateful that we’d made it to state already.”
Sander and Shuey will begin the Class 2A state tournament Friday at the Nordstrom Tennis Center at the University of Washington in Seattle. Both players are surprised at their success this season.
“Me and him hadn’t even played tennis until last August,” Shuey said. “It was actually quite a shock that we did this well.”
The only other North End tennis player to qualify for the state tournament is not so surprised. North Kitsap High School sophomore Zach Fohn qualified as a singles player after placing fourth at the West Central District’s Class 3A tournament last week. Fohn, the Vikings’ No. 1 singles player, has been preparing for the playoffs over the past several months.
“I played a lot indoors in the offseason, and I also did track in the spring to get conditioned,” he said. “In the last month I’ve worked a lot on my fitness.”
Fohn competed in the 200 and 400 meters for the North Kitsap High track team this season. He said the conditioning has paid off.
“I feel really good,” Fohn said. “Last month, I had a lot of wins in other tournaments I played in.”
The Class 3A state tennis tournament takes place today and Saturday at the Vancouver Tennis Center in Vancouver.