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Mercer Island bounces Bellevue in tennis; win gives edge for league title
A showdown between the top two teams in 3A KingCo resulted in Mercer Island taking the lead in the chase for the league title with a 7-2 win over Bellevue, Tuesday.
“[The Mercer Island players] were really ready to play,” said Islander coach Joyce Hedlund. “But this meet was more competitive than the scores show.”
Mercer Island dominated doubles play, 3-0. The Islanders’ No. 1 team of Max Franklin and Matt Ellis came out on top (6-2, 6-4), while Eddie Jiranek and his partner, Colin Ramsey, won a hard-fought three-set victory, 6-0, 5-7, 6-2. The Islanders completed the doubles sweep when their No. 3 team of Matt Stofsky and Matt Sedlacek won (6-2, 6-1).
The Islanders were led in singles action by No. 2 player, freshman Jordan Smith, and his comeback victory, 3-6, 7-5, 10-7.
“Jordan was really sick and this was a grueling match,” said Hedlund. “I have been surprised by his mental game. He is really tough.”
Smith’s victory evened the score following a loss at No. 1 singles by another sick Islander, Ellis, in another close match 7-6(7-3), 6-1.
“I am not trying to make excuses, but he was really sick,” said Hedlund.
Ellis’ frustration came to a head during the tie-breaking set point of the first set. Hedlund’s tough love resulted in her making a call that was not popular with her own team as she penalized Ellis a point, costing him the set.
“He has to learn not to do that so he doesn’t make that mistake during KingCo or districts,” said Hedlund.
Franklin came up big in singles action with a straight sets victory, 6-0, 7-5, during the No. 3 match. Mercer Island also earned victories behind Andrew Smith (6-3, 6-0) at No. 4 singles and Glen Kelton at No. 4 singles (6-2, 6-4).
The Islanders’ match against Inglemoor High School on Thursday was canceled. Mercer Island took on Ballard, Sept. 30, and will face Bothell on Tuesday. But Mercer Island is looking forward to a match against former league rival Newport on Oct. 13.
“It is a practice match and this is a rebuilding year for them, but it should be a good match,” said Hedlund. “We have to be careful not to just put it in cruise control from here on.”
Islander USTA tournament wins
Mercer Island dominated two USTA tennis events, Sept. 19-21, including three separate tournament championships. During the USTA Junior Championships at the Sprinker recreation center in Tacoma, Mercer Island sophomore Chelsea Bailey won the girls 18-year-olds’ tournament, while Zack Elliott won the boys 14-year-olds’ tournament. During the Ellensburg Fall Championships, Jordan Smith won the boys 16-year-olds’ tournament, and Max Franklin and Andrew La Cava of Bellevue won the boys doubles tournament.