Girls tennis: Hastings places second at districts, earns state berth

A team that seemed short on experience before the spring season’s outset put four players in the district tourney and picked up six wins there.

Junior Kendall Hastings won three out of four matches to earn second place at the 2A West Central District 3 girls tennis tournament in Bremerton last week.

On May 20, Hastings beat Ange Gyan of Renton 6-0, 6-0, then followed up by beating Justine Bang of Sammamish 6-2, 6-3 for a spot in the district semifinals, where she beat Macy Furtwanger of Enumclaw 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

In the finals, Hastings fell to Taraneh Khalighi of Sammamish, 6-2, 6-1. She moves on to play in the state 2A tennis championships.

”I thought Kendall played very smart, intelligent tennis,” Sequim coach Mark Textor said. “Along with her talent she used her brain in a variety of shots until she found a way to win.”

Hastings will open the 2A state tournament against Tiffany Phout of East Valley (Spokane) on Friday, May 27, at the Nordstrom Tennis Center on the University of Washington campus in Seattle.

She’ll be joined there by teammate Garrett Little, who opens the boys 2A state tourney Jeffrey Truong of Fort Vancouver on May 27.

“I think they both have a chance to get a couple of wins,” Textor said. “Actually, depending on the draw and how they play, both have a chance to place.”

While Hastings was the lone Wolf to advance from the girls’ district tourney, Sequim’s other entries, each of them seniors, picked up wins and came close to extending their postseasons.

”I thought all four girls played fantastic and they were all so close to going to state,” Textor said.

Jordan Hegtvedt and Malory Morey opened with a convincing 6-1, 6-4 win over Frohar Azizi and Cindy Thai of Foster. The Sequim pair took an early lead against Sarah Chianglin and Viv Khuu of Sammamish, but eventually fell 6-2, 6-4. (Chianglin and Khuu went on to place third.)

In the consolation bracket, Hegtvedt and Morey outlasted North Kitsap’s Beckham Ochs and Olivia Carey 6-2, 7-6 (7-3). Needing one more win for a state 2A tourney berth, Hegvedt and Morey fell to Enumclaw’s Jasmin Dumontel and Sydney Scribner, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.

“You can’t get any closer and not go,” Textor said. “They played theirs hearts out and they played well.”

Hegtvedt and Morey were nearly unbeaten during the regular season and earned the Olympic League’s No. 2 seed after going 3-1 at the league tourney earlier in the month.

“I think we complement each other well,” Morey said, between first and second round matches at districts.

“Sometimes we’ll make jokes or (offer) encouragement like, ‘You’ve got it.’”

Assistant coach Andrea Dietzman said the Sequim duo’s success comes from their steady play.

Both longtime volleyball players, Hegtvedt and Morey said that background helps in tennis strategy, placing the ball where opponents can’t reach and timing hits.

Allie Gale, coming in with the No. 5 seed from the Olympic League, upset Steilacoom’s Delaney Brinkhaus, the South Puget Sound League’s No. 2 seed, in a three-hour match, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2 and 6-3.

Gale then matched up with North Kitsap ace Teegan Devries and fell 6-3, 6-0; Devries went on to place third in the tourney.

Gale nearly earned a win in her third match, falling in a third set tiebreaker to Sania Williams of Clover Park — 4-6, 6-3, 10-8.

As for Gale’s improvement over the season, Textor said, “I was almost in disbelief; she has turned herself into a very good tennis player.”

Gale said she got better as the spring went on by being more consistent and picking up new skills.

“I learned drop shots finally,” she said.

And, being left-handed sometimes would throw her opponents off, she said.

Like her other SHS tennis teammates, Gale drew on her volleyball experience to help in tennis. She said being able to play the ball overhead is similar to volleyball hits.

She said she preferred singles play to doubles.

“It’ a lot faster-paced,” Gale said. “I have to rely on myself.”

Prior to the season, Textor said the Wolves would struggle a bit in with their lack of experience, but that the squad showed consistent improvement, resulting in four players at districts.

“Overall, this season was a huge success,” he said. “I was so surprised we had that many girls so close to going to state.”