Less than a week after his team won a second consecutive Great Northern League title, Cheney High boys’ tennis head coach Jesse Erickson checked another season goal off the list – getting one of his players to state at the District 7 tennis championships at Washington State University, May 21.
In fact, there will be four Blackhawks who will be competing at the 2A tennis state championships May 27-28.
Cheney’s Ryan Axtell and Mason Van Stone won the District 7 doubles bracket after they defeated teammates Brandon Foster and Shogo Starr in the finals 6-2, 6-3, May 21. Both teams will advance to the state tournament at the University of Washington.
In team scores, Cheney finished second with 41 points.
“It was a fun match,” Erickson said, referring to the final match between his two doubles teams. “Both teams gave it their all. I told them to enjoy it and that ‘you’re not going to be here (district tournament) again.’ Now they’re moving on to state.”
On their way to the finals, Axtell and Van Stone had a first-round bye, then defeated Pullman’s Dalton Bankhead and Spencer Hatch (6-0, 6-1) and West Valley’s Spencer Glass and Ryan Hunter (6-0, 6-2).
“They put on one of the best doubles performances I’ve ever seen,” Erickson said. “Mason and Ryan were strong at the net and super aggressive on returns.”
Prior to facing their teammates, Foster and Starr had wins over West Valley’s Jake Boles and Collin Boucher (6-0, 6-0), Clarkston’s Ian Best and Lane Goin (6-3, 6-4) and Pullman’s Tim McAleer and Charles Pezeshki (7-5, 6-3).
“My guys played the court well,” Erickson said. “There were a lot of lobs and goofy shots from them, many of them were all over the place. They were able to capitalize.”
Cheney’s third doubles team, Adam Passey and Luke Huguenin, went 1-1 before they were eliminated.
Erickson moved Hayden Bennett, Aleksandr Chernega and Aaron Fillmore, who all played in doubles during the regular season, to the singles bracket.
Fillmore defeated West Valley’s Hunter Dean (6-2, 7-6, 6-4) then lost to Clarkston’s Don Arsenev (6-0, 6-1).
Bennett and Chernega were eliminated in the first round.
“They all played well considering they played in doubles the entire season,” Erickson said. “I wanted to get Hayden and Aaron some singles experience to prepare them for next year. Alexkandr wanted to go out big since it was his senior year and he played one of the best matches he has all season. He felt good about his performance.”
Axtell and Van Stone received all-league honors and Erickson was also named the GNL’s “Coach of the Year” for the second year in a row. Erickson said he “couldn’t be more proud of my guys” for the season they’ve had.”
“Now we have a third goal and that is to have one of the teams place in state,” he added. “We’re trying to keep the momentum going. I know the competition is going to be tough, but I think we have a good chance.”