On CHS boys tennis

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It’s been almost a week since the CHS boys’ tennis team wrapped up their season. This year the Blackhawks (3-5 league, 5-6 overall), who had run the GNL for the last couple of years, finished third in the league standings. It might seem like a downer since the team didn’t get to add another league title to its resume, but considering the lack of experience – only one varsity returner among a team of former JV players and first-year athletes – they did well.

There were a couple of high points this season. In singles play, athletes like Eric Van Wig, Hunter Pohl, Aaron Fillmore and Dixon Gerber contributed to team wins. Several players also shined on doubles – including Logan Ray, Jesse Black and Saul Bautista, who will be graduating this year.

As a doubles team, Gerber and Fillmore picked up wins and finished third in the District 7 tournament.

While it’s a little bittersweet that my coverage of the boys tennis team is done this year, I’m looking forward to next season. The team potentially has a lot of returning players next year who are – to borrow a phrase from Cheney football head coach Bobby Byrd – “battle tested.”

Coach Jesse Erickson said he feels like his guys could win the league next year and he might be right.

Blackhawks tennis teams finish season at state

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The Cheney High boys’ and girls’ tennis teams wrapped up their postseasons at the 2A state tournament, May 27, at the University of Washington.

The doubles team of Ryan Axtell and Mason Van Stone were 1-2 before they were eliminated in the consolation round of the tournament. Brandon Foster and Shogo Starr were 0-2.

“We were hoping for better results, but my guys played some of the best tennis they ever have,” head coach Jesse Erickson said. “It’s a high of level of competition at state. There are no bad teams there.”

Axtell and Van Stone came back to defeat Washington’s Koha Nguyen and Kaleb Whitemarsh, of Tacoma, (3-6, 6-3, 6-1), then lost to Lindbergh’s Donovan Dang and Patrick Tiazmon (6-4, 7-6). They were eliminated in the consolation round after their loss to North Kitsap’s Josh Benson and Nicky Butler (6-2, 6-3).

“The effort was there,” Erickson said. “Their communication was great and they were aggressive. I was pleased with the way they played.”

Foster and Starr had back-to-back losses to Shorecrest’s Daniel Wacker and Faiz Khan (6-0, 6-1), who won the 2A doubles championship, and Black Hills’ Gunnar Nelson and Garrett Nelson (6-4, 6-4).

“Brandon and Shogo felt good about their performance,” Erickson said. “Making it to state was a huge accomplishment for them.”

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On the girls’ side, Bridget Calvert went 1-2 in her singles bracket. After she lost her first-round match to Sehome’s Ali Morrow (6-1, 6-2), she defeated Olympic’s Melissa Nemeth (6-4, 6-2). She was eliminated from the tournament after her loss to Sedro-Woolley’s Kadssidee Beuse (6-3, 6-1).

Both Cheney tennis teams are coming off strong regular seasons.

The boys shared the Great Northern League regular season title with Pullman – the second league title for the Blackhawks – after they finished with a 7-1 league record, 13-1 overall with their only loss coming against the Greyounds in their second match on May 5. The girls (6-2, 11-3) finished second in the league and won their first District 7 title, May 21.

The girls lose seven seniors to graduation: Amparo Contreras, Maria Contreras, Amanda Foster, Emily Howard, Shayla Payne and Sadie Knutson. The team should have a strong core group of players returning next year including Calvert, Alannah Lewis, who finished fourth at districts, Danica Gary, Taylor Gould and Caitlyn Strong, who all had wins on varsity in singles and doubles competition.

The boys lose eight seniors, including both doubles teams that went to state, plus Adam Passey, Luke Huguenin, Dirk Ray and Aleksandr Chernega.

“To get four guys to state is a huge accomplishment and it’s never been done as long as I’ve been a coach,” Erickson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. Most of these seniors have played tennis for three or four years. I’m really going to miss having them on the team.”

Erickson noted that sophomores Hayden Bennett and Aaron Fillmore are two players who are expected to return next year. Bennett and Fillmore had a good season as a doubles team – including a third-place finish at the Inland Empire tournament in May – and competed in singles at districts.

“A bunch of sophomores from JV will be juniors next year and they’ll have to step up,” Erickson said. “I think they’ll be ready.”

Alman on CHS golf and tennis

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Spring sports concluded last week for Cheney High School after the 2A state golf and tennis championships. I’ve already written about baseball so this post will focus on the golf and tennis teams I covered this year.

Both boys’ and girls’ golf teams had some success. Cheyenne Marchand and Tyler Koohns both made it to state again – I will have the official recap up this week – while younger players like Kelsey Smith and Thomas Baycroft – who were state alternates – Ian Hill, Katrina Lbuseic and Logan Klauss made strides in their game.

Marchand will be graduating and playing golf at Whitworth University but there will be plenty of players who can step up from the girls’ team. The boys only lose Scott Nadeau and all of the starters this year will return next season.

Both tennis teams had amazing season. The boys won their second regular season championship and sent two doubles teams to state. The girls finished second in the Great Northern League and won the District 7 team title with Bridget Calvert going to state.

The boys team won 13 of their 14 matches and shared the league title with Pullman. Although the doubles teams – which were comprised of the four singles players Ryan Axtell and Mason Van Stone, and Brandon Foster and Shogo Starr – didn’t make it far in state, they played well and had stellar regular seasons.

But it wasn’t just the seniors who shined. Sophmores like Hayden Bennett and Aaron Fillmore had success – including a third-place finish at the Inland Empire Classic tennis tournament – and gained some varsity experience, which will be good for them heading into next season.

That said, I think next season will be a rebuilding one for the boys team, but the year after they’ll look great. Of course I could be wrong and they could win a third-straight league title.

As for the girls, they were a big surprise this year. Although they’ve improved since Jason Overland took the reins of the team in 2013, I didn’t expect them to finish as strong as they did, nor did I think they would win the District title. There’s a lot of talent on that team, but the GNL is a meat-grinder especially when it comes to individualized sports like wrestling and tennis.

Calvert had the best season of her career and it was good to see her compete at state, especially after she missed the opportunity to do in 2015 after she lost to teammate Katelynn Smedley at districts.

This year has been great for both teams. Spring sports is always fun to cover and I can’t wait until next year.

Blackhawks doubles teams head to state tennis tournament

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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.”

Girls’ tennis takes second in league

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The Cheney High girls’ tennis team ended the regular season on a high note after their 5-2 win over West Valley, May 9. The Blackhawks finished with a 6-2 Great Northern League record, 11-3 overall and second place in the league standings.

“Last year we finished with a 10-4 record and this year we were 11-3,” head coach Jason Overland said, referring to his goal of ending the regular season with a better overall record than last year. “Our players are playing some really good tennis and peaking at the right moment.”

Cheney swept the Eagles in singles play. Bridget Calvert, No. 1, defeated Ana Raney (6-1, 6-2) to finish the season undefeated in league competition. No. 2 Emily Howard won her match against Xena Chhoeun (6-2, 6-0), No. 3 Alannah Lewis shut out Jenelle Long (6-0, 6-0) and No. 4 Caitlyn Strong defeated Megeret Dohhen (6-0, 6-1).

No. 3 Taylor Gould and Zeb Potter picked up Cheney’s only doubles win after their victory over Elizabeth Ellis and Tierney Cathcart (6-2, 6-0).

Cheney returns to action at the District 7 tournament May 20-21 at Washington State University. Calvert took third place at last year’s district tournament after she lost to Katelynn Smedley in the second-place match.

Overland said the team would finalize the districts lineup on Tuesday, then “get a few good practices in” before the event. He noted that Calvert will be one of the three Cheney players in the singles tournament.

“If Bridget, the other two singles players and our doubles work hard, then I think we have a shot (to do well),” Overland said.

Blackhawks tennis wins second GNL title

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Back in March, before the season started, Cheney High boy’s tennis coach Jesse Erickson said his team had a “good shot” of winning a second Great Northern League regular season championship — and he was right.

The Blackhawks (7-1 GNL, 12-1 overall) wrapped up their regular season with a 6-1 win over West Valley, May 9, and in the process claimed a share of the district title with Pullman (7-1, 13-1).

“To have back-to-back league titles is great,” Erickson said. “I’m super proud of our guys. They’ve put in a lot of time and effort this season.”

Ryan Axtell, No. 1 singles, and Shogo Starr, No. 4, both earned 6-0, 6-0 shutouts over Troy Cleaver and Deliece Davis, respectively.

“Heading into the district tournament, we want to look our best and that’s what Ryan did,” Erickson said. “Shogo finished the season undefeated, he was a good anchor for us all season.”

No. 2 Mason Van Stone defeated Hunter Dean and No. 3 Brandon Foster won his match against Dylan Almeida with identical 6-0, 6-1 scores.

In doubles, No. 1 Adam Passey and Luke Huguenin lost to Spencer Glass and Gunnar Chebriak (4-6, 6-3, 6-2). Erickson noted that this match was closer than the first time Passey and Huguenin faced Glass and Chebriak in April.

No. 2 Aaron Fillmore and Hayden Bennett defeated Collin Boucher and Jake Boles (6-0, 6-1) while Dirk Ray and Aleksandr Chernega won a close match against Trevor MacArthur and Nick Crane (6-1, 7-6).

“Aleksandr and Dirk were able to close the match and showcase their experience against a younger team,” Erickson said.

Prior to the match, eight graduating seniors were honored. Erickson said “it will be a little rough losing” the bulk of his varsity lineup next season.

With another regular season title in the trophy case, Cheney will compete in the District 7 tournament, May 20-21, at Washington State University.

Last year, former Blackhawk Ryan Smedley took second to advance to regionals and then went on to state.

For this year’s tournament, Erickson said he may put Foster and Starr together in the doubles bracket. Although they did not play together during the regular season, they went 2-1 in the Inland Empire tournament in April. Another possible doubles pairing for Cheney is Van Stone and Axtell, who have spent the entire season in singles. The two teamed up in during the 2014 season.

“We’ve got one goal down and that was winning the league title,” Erickson said. “Our next goal is to send someone to state. I think we have a good shot.”

Girls’ tennis sits in second place

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The Cheney High girls’ tennis team (5-2 Great Northern League, 10-3 overall) are in second place in the league standings after a 5-2 win over Clarkston (2-4, 7-4), May 3 and a 6-1 loss to Pullman (6-0, 11-2), May 5. The Greyhounds will claim the GNL regular season title.

Against Pullman, Bridget Calvert, No. 1 singles, rallied to defeat Halle Berg (5-7, 6-3, 6-1) while Alannah Lewis, No. 3, shut out Ally Brown (6-0, 6-0). No. 4 Caitlyn Strong won her match against Heidi Hansen (6-3, 6-1).

In doubles, No. 2 Amparo Contreras and Danica Gary defeated Riley Dentum and Behn Latella (6-4, 6-7, 6-4). No. 3 Nika Kauwe and Zeb Potter also picked up a 6-0, 6-4 win.

Calvert, No. 1, was the only Cheney player to win at Pullman after she defeated Alexa Yadama (6-4, 6-3).

Cheney finished its regular season at West Valley (2-4, 7-4), May 10. They’ll compete in districts, May 20-21, at Washington State University.