November 24, 2008 · Updated 5:07 PM
Despite first-match jitters, Mercer Island beats Newport
Mercer Island Reporter
Last year, the Mercer Island girls tennis team became a victim of its own schedule, having to face the two best teams back-to-back to start the season.
This year, the Islanders proved that they learn from their mistakes with a 6-3 victory over Newport to start the season.
Mercer Island began the second meet of the season against Skyline, Thursday. The Islanders held the advantage in many of the matches, including the first victory before rain postponed the meet until 3:45 p.m. today.
“We still need to see how deep Bellevue is going to be, but we are sitting in a good spot if we can get both of these,” said Mercer Island coach Joyce Hedlund.
The Islanders’ Erica Leong was the only Islander to complete a match against Skyline on Thursday, 6-1, 6-1.
“Last year was different against Skyline because we came in exhausted,” said Hedlund. “This year, we are ready to play.”
The victory over Newport gave the Islanders something they did not have against the Spartans last year — momentum.
“They were really nervous going into the [Newport] matches,” said Hedlund.
The biggest unknown this season was how Mercer Island freshman Chelsea Baily would handle playing No. 1 singles for varsity.
The question was answered with her 6-4, 6-4 victory against Newport.
“I expected her to do what she did but she was extremely nervous, so you never know,” said Hedlund.
The nerves seemed to affect Bailey more during her No. 1 doubles match with teammate Michelle Zemplenyi. Bailey had to serve underhand in order to keep her team in the match. The technique worked for awhile but eventually would be their downfall as Newport won 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
Zemplenyi also earned a singles victory at No. 2, beating her opponent 6-3, 6-3, while Leong made it 3-for-3 with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-0 win.
The biggest surprise for Hedlund was her No. 5 singles player Sherrie Hsu.
“She did a great job against her girl,” said Hedlund. “I wasn’t counting on her going out and beating her opponent in two sets.”
The 6-4, 6-4 victory means the Islanders only need one more win in the next five matches.
Islanders Julia Schubach and Kelly Crandall pulled off a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(3) win at No. 2 doubles, and Julia Zook and Paige Waldron also earned a crucial win with a 7-6(1), 6-4 match.
Jessie Winterbauer lost at No. 4 singles but played her opponent tough in a 6-1, 6-0 match.
“She was actually playing a girl that is a No. 1 or 2 level player,” said Hedlund. “I think it was a great learning experience, and she played well.”
Completing the win over Skyline today will not be easy, but it would put the Islanders in the driver’s seat in KingCo.
“I feel really good about our chances now,” said Hedlund. “I was worried about these two matches back-to-back.”
Bellevue will be the Islanders’ next big test on April 22 as their No. 1 player is one of the best in the state. The Islanders’ next match is scheduled for tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. against Woodinville.