The road to the state 2A doubles title match looked awfully similar for Sequim’s Jessica Dietzman and Kalli Wiker. This time, however, the Wolves weren’t leaving without a championship.
Dietzman, a junior, and Wiker, a sophomore, overcame a loss in a first-set tiebreaker to dominate the second and third sets to top Sammamish’s Katrina Kuntz and Nina Vongsaly (6-7, 6-2, 6-1) in the state 2A tennis championship in Seattle on May 25.
Their effort helped Sequim tie Columbia River for first place in team scoring — only the second team tennis championship in Sequim High’s history (2007).
“The girls played fantastic tennis and beat good teams all weekend,” Sequim coach Mark Textor said. “They are just really mentally tough and never give up.”
Their SHS boys counterparts also had a successful 2A tourney, with Thomas Hughes and Blake Wiker earning a seventh-place finish, and teammates Damon Little and Liam Payne placing eighth, helping Sequim’s boys team tie for fifth place overall.
Girls go 4-0
Dietzman and Wiker finished their season with an unblemished 22-0 mark and are 40-1 as doubles partners in the past two seasons.
“We have different skill sets: Kalli has more powerful ground strokes and I’ more like volleying, getting shots back (over the net),” Dietzman said. “The best way we play is I’m at the net and she ground-stroking.”
The Wolves’ pair won two matches to open the 2A tourney at Seattle’s Nordstrom Center on May 24. In the opener, Dietzman and Wiker swept Kerea Sinclair and Lillian Hyde of West Valley-Spokane 6-1, 6-1 before edging Bellingham’s Britney Butcher and Louli Ziels 6-4, 7-5 in the quarterfinals.
“Bellingham played a different style: they lobbed all the time,” Wiker said. “We had to stay aggressive and not play their style all the time.”
The next day, Dietman and Wiker were tested but eventually ousted Sydney Cameron and Jisu Han of W. F. West, 7-5, 6-3, to set up a rematch of last year’s 2A doubles finals against Kuntz and Vongsaly; the Sammamish duo took the 2018 title by a 6-3, 6-3 score.
“We were excited (for the rematch),” Wiker said. “We were ready to take on the challenge. We knew they were going to be good (but) we knew we could beat them.”
“At first I was kind of nervous — I did not want a repeat of last year,” Dietzman said. “But talking with Kalli, it was, ‘OK, this is redemption. If we win this is huge. It shows how much we’ve grown.’”
By the second set, the Sequim duo was matching Kuntz and Vongsaly ground stroke for ground stroke, Wiker said.
“Their shots were hard (but) Jessica got everything back,” Wiker said.
Boys teams go 2-2
Hughes and Blake Wiker opened their tourney with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Ephrata’s Clay Johns and Nathan Todaro before getting knocked out of the championship round by Bellingham’s Owen Morrison and Colm Schaefer in the the quarterfinals, 6-1, 7-5.
Hughes and Wiker rebounded to beat Wapato’s Humberto Hinojosa and Naujae Pineda 7-5, 6-1 on May 25 to reach the fourth/seventh-place match, but fell 6-4, 6-3 to Bellingham’s Noah Giese and Ben Grabau.
“We were right in it the second day to placing higher,” Wiker said.
Little and Payne dropped their opener on May 24, a 6-1, 7-6 decision to Columbia River’s Wilson Keller and Nate Kessi, but came back to win a three-set match a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 against Washington’s Ariano Chavez and Kyle Whitemarsh.
The Sequim pair defeated R.A. Long’s Ethan Chung and Brady Anderson 7-5, 6-1 on May 25 to reach the fifth/eighth place match, where they dropped a 6-0, 6-2 decision to Pullman’s Andy He and Tim Watts.
Hughes and Wiker finish the season — which started in the fall — with a 16-2 mark as doubles partners, while Little and Payne end the campaign with a 19-7 record.
“It was awesome to have Damon and Liam there (at state) too,” Wiker said.
Wiker, who had a busy week with playing in the state 2A golf finals on May 20 and 21 before playing at the state tennis prep finals just three days later, said he and Hughes have similar skills and developed a good repertoire in discussing strategy before and during each match.
The duo have been playing together for the past three seasons and qualified for the state tourney in 2018.
“We both serve and volley really well,” Wiker said.