"It’s a little bit of a building year."
Sequim coach Doug Hastings has a list of players for this spring’s Sequim High girls’ tennis team and the Wolves’ first team to defend a state championship will be without most of the moving parts that made it so good.
But the coach isn’t sweating that fact.
"I’m not putting too much attention on whether we go undefeated or (being) league champion," Hastings says. "It’s more like, ‘Let’s try to improve your game, give you the best chance to beat this opponent.’ We’ll focus on smaller things."
Back from last year’s squad is Kyla Hall, who teamed with then-senior Stephanie Reed to go 6-3 in postseason play and miss the state tourney only by a rule that keeps teams from taking all three doubles berths.
"She’s one of our key players," Hastings says.
Other players the Wolves are depending on include Angela Richards and Blaire Maloney, both of whom saw some varsity time in 2007. Richards racked up a 3-2 record in doubles, finished second in singles at the sub-district tournament and went 1-2 at the district tournament.
Other top returnees include Diana Earl, Kali Wake and Mary Cherrett.
"There’s a core of girls that didn’t see much varsity time (last year)," Hastings says. "We’re asking some girls to step up and play varsity that normally wouldn’t. I think, in this league, that’s normal."
For the past three seasons, Sequim has been bigger than life in the Olympic and Nisqually leagues, racking up a ridiculous 36-0 record and three league titles. In 2005, the Wolves were 10th among 3A teams, and in 2006 Sequim placed third as a team.
Last year, it all came together as the Wolves posted 23 team points to claim the school’s first team state title.
Gone are last year’s seniors Justine Textor, Stacia Bibler, Stephanie Reed, Staci Stratton and Anna Slater. The Wolves also are without doubles standout Laine Briggs, a senior who chose not to play tennis this spring.
"We could have used (Laine) but it’s a personal choice and I respect that," Hastings says.
Hastings, the Sequim coach who hasn’t led the girls since 2002 but switched positions with "new" boys’ coach Mark Textor this school year, says he hopes to get this group of athletes to focus on the basics and put pressure on their opponents to gain wins and confidence.
It certainly helps that he and Textor, a veteran Sequim coach who’s an assistant for this year’s girls squad, have different coaching styles.
"In general, both Mark and I are holistic coaches," Hastings says. "His focus is more on the mechanics, to give the girls good tools to hit the ball cleanly well, the foundation of good strokes. (My) focus is more on being a smart player and strategy. Those two elements make a good blend for a tennis player. We hope to give them a good chance to use those tools in that little toolbox of tennis. I don’t think that other coaches who we see really utilize that. Those we (see do that) are at the state tournaments."
Sequim High Wolves girls’ tennis
2007 record: 8-0 in Olympic League (champions), 10-0 overall; class 2A state champions
Coaches: Doug Hastings, head coach (sixth year overall); assistants Mark Textor
Top returning players: Kyla Hall, Blaire Maloney, Diana Earl, Angela Richards, Kali Wake, Mary Cherrett, Caihley Baker, Jaysa Hill, Amanda Tjemsland, Sarah Hogoboom, Renee Brilhante
Newcomers: Katie Allen, Ana Baylon, Jayme Birdsall, Sara Boucher, Katlyn Edwards, Brandi Gaddis, Kari Hankins, Holly Hudson, Karlee Johnston, Lindsey Kirkland, Lindsey Moore, Gloria Nesse, Stephanie Nguyen, Dung Quach
Outlook: After finishing third at state in 2006 and first in 2007, the Wolves will be hard-pressed to repeat as state champs. Look for some of Sequim’s more experienced players to get deep into the playoffs and underclassmen to get ample varsity playing time.