Doubles team wins 3A KingCo tourney

The Mercer Island girls tennis team will have just one duo competing at districts this week, but they might be the best in Washington state. Islanders Chelsea Bailey and Michelle Zemplenyi defeated Lani Nunokawa and Meredith Jewitt of Newport to win the 3A KingCo tournament doubles championship on May 5.

“They walked to the court like they owned it and that was the biggest difference,” said Mercer Island coach Joyce Hedlund. “They were going to make that Newport team fight for it.”

The match had drama from start to finish at Skyline High School. The Islander tandem forced a tiebreaker during the set, winning 7-6(4). But the team would not fair as well during the second set, losing 3-6. Zemplenyi and Bailey took out their Newport opponents 6-3.

The victory also helps with the Islander team’s confidence as Zemplenyi and Bailey lost to Nunokawa and Jewitt during the regular season.

“They were really nervous the first time,” said Hedlund. “That Newport team is very tough. This time I think they just wanted to beat them. They had a lot more experience than during the first match, and they had a lot more confidence.”

The Islanders will have just Bailey and Zemplenyi headed to districts for a girls team that finished the regular season 8-0 and league champions for the first time in three seasons.

The doubles team of Julia Zook and Paige Waldron made it to the qualifying match for the fifth seed to districts but the pressure of the match seemed to be too much.

“It was disappointing but I don’t think they had enough match experience,” said Hedlund about the loss. “They couldn’t pick up the energy and it was just one error after the other.”

None of the Islander singles competitors made it to districts but Hedlund said that she was pleased with the effort and improvement.

“It was an exceedingly difficult draw and but they did a great job,” said Hedlund.

The Sea-King district meet began on Monday (after Reporter deadline) on the courts at Green Lake in Seattle. The tournament culminates today with the top four teams qualifying for the state tournament to be held Friday and Saturday, may 23 and 24 in Kennewick, Wash.

The boys contingent will also have a chance to compete at state with a top-four seeding at districts this week. The boys tennis team’s regular season and league tournament took place last fall as the Islanders finished first in the division.

The Mercer Island No. 1 doubles team of Max Franklin and Matt Ellis will compete in doubles action as the No. 1 seed from KingCo.

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