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Mercer Island tennis dominates at 3A state championships
For the fourth consecutive year, both Mercer Island girls and boys tennis took home the 3A state tennis titles after wrapping up tournament competition Saturday, May 31 in Kennewick. The girls won with a team score of 24, while the boys won with a score of 29. It was the sixth-straight title for the girls and fourth-consecutive for the boys.
In another impressive tournament showing by Mercer Island, all Islanders competing at state earned medals. And with all-Islanders in doubles finals for both the boys and girls, Mercer Island secured the top two spots in both doubles competitions.
For the girls, Gabby and Lydia Venditti defeated teammates Caroline Dillon and Caroline Hamilton 6-1, 6-2 to earn the pair’s second-straight doubles title. Miji Suhr and Jamie Mounger placed seventh after falling to Eastside Catholic’s Megan Bastian and Rachael DeCaires 6-2, 7-5.
Girls tennis coach Mindy Blakeslee said having three doubles teams at state was huge for the Islanders’ title chances. Expecting the margins to be much closer between the Islanders and Holy Names, runners-up with a score of 14, Blakeslee felt the Islanders had to get three “bodies” to the tournament, pairing Suhr and Mounger three weeks ago to be that team.
“You don’t know when you’re getting ready for the tournament which half of the draw you’ll be on or how good the draw is going to be. All I knew was it would take 19-20 points to win and we ended up with 24, so I was thrilled,” said Blakeslee. “They far exceeded my expectations. I never dreamed of a 1-2 finish in state doubles, and all the girls medaling was amazing. They definitely rose to the occasion.”
In boys doubles, Matt Seifert and Ben Elliott defeated teammates Brian Hou and Charlie Williams 6-3, 6-4 to win the state doubles title. For Seifert, who won state doubles last year with Kyle Baska, it was his second-straight doubles title. Peter Williams and Rafa Gonzalez-Posada took the fifth-place match over Kennewick’s Chad McKenzie and Jared Bolt, 6-4, 61. In singles competition, Henry Smith placed sixth after falling to Highline’s Wyatt DeMulling in the third-place match 6-2, 6-2.
Boys tennis coach Ryan Pang said winning state this year was special for him as a coach because he wasn’t sure his team would’ve won state as convincingly as they did if they started tournament play at the end of the fall.
“In the gap between October and May, you can work on your game and strength and focus and do what they did, or you can totally blow it off until a week before the tournament and try to cram. When you do that, the results can be completely random,” he said. “Because they didn’t do it that way and worked hard the entire postseason, winning state that way was special for me because I didn’t have to do any motivating. It basically took care of itself. I’ve been a part of Mercer Island tennis for a long time and it hasn’t always been like that.”
Girls state doubles champions Gabby and Lydia Venditti pose with coach Mindy Blakeslee and the 3A state championship trophy (Willy Paine/Contributed photo).