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Islanders take doubles title
The Mercer Island boys tennis season didn’t go as planned. A loss to Newport to begin the season, and a subsequent 1-4 start, ended any chance for a league title. But there was always the 3A KingCo tournament on the horizon, giving the players an opportunity to win a title.
The Mercer Island doubles team of Matt Ellis and Max Franklin took advantage of that opportunity by winning the doubles title, along with gaining back some of the pride for a program with a rich tradition.
“I think they are starting to understand the tradition, and they really wanted it like crazy,” said Joyce Hedlund, Mercer Island tennis head coach.
The doubles team did not take the easy road, avenging some regular season losses along the way.
“We wanted to make up for the season somehow, and we just had a desire to win,” said Matt Ellis.
Newport, which beat Mercer Island 9-0 during the team’s regular season contest, came into the tournament with two doubles teams aiming for the tournament championship.
As luck would have it, Ellis and Franklin would get a shot at both teams. Following two decisive victories, the Islanders cruised into the semifinals against the Knights’ team of Steven Matyas and Ryan Vo.
The match was important to Newport as their No. 1 team of Steven Miyauchi and Zach Chen had already advanced to the finals, potentially setting up an all-Newport final. But Ellis and Franklin had other plans, beating Matyas and Vo in straight sets 6-4, 7-6(5).
“It definitely made it more sweet since they swept the season match against our team,” said Ellis.
But the win would mean that Franklin and Ellis would face the No. 1 seed for the title, a team they had lost to during their only regular season meeting.
And the Islanders started slow, losing the first set 6-3. The Mercer Island team tightened up their game and played more consistently, allowing Newport to make mistakes during long volleys. The match set was a stalemate, going to 6-6 and a tie breaker. The Islanders would force a third set with a 7-6(5) victory.
During the final set, Ellis and Franklin gained a slight advantage and never looked back, eventually beating the Newport team 7-5 to win the championship.
The victory also means that Ellis and Franklin will move on to the district meet next spring as the No. 1 KingCo seed.
“They just need to work on their consistency,” said Hedlund. “Districts will be tough, but I am proud of what they accomplished.”
Ellis and Franklin were the only Islanders to qualify for the district meet.