One girls doubles to state

One hot day last week wilted the Mercer Island girls tennis team’s chances at the high school’s 27th state title, as the tandem of Amelia Carpenter and Michelle Zemplenyi were the only Islanders to make the state cut. The doubles team finished fourth in districts at Lower Woodland Park, qualifying them to play in the state tournament in Eastern Washington this weekend.

“Tuesday was really hot and Wednesday was cold,” said Zemplenyi. “We were lucky that we only had to play one match the first day.”

The doubles team, which earned a first-round bye with their KingCo seed, took on the Lakeside duo of Annika Finne and Caroline Daly during the quarterfinals. The Islanders won the match, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, despite many unforced errors during the second set.

“The other teams were really consistent,” said Zemplenyi. “But we definitely had nerves, which affects the mental aspect.”

Islander Sheehan Trippel was not as lucky on the first day. The singles player was forced to play a match that lasted three hours and 45 minute her first time on the court. Despite the 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, victory, the heat had taken its toll on the senior as she lost during the quarterfinals 6-1, 6-3.

“It was depressing for all of us,” said Carpenter. “We were really hoping she could make it to state. But she played well.”

Carpenter and Zemplenyi moved on to the semifinals and a cooler Wednesday morning time slot. But the tandem ran into the eventual district champions from Lakeside Lauren Whately and Catherine Phelps, losing 6-2, 6-3. The Islanders played in the consolation final, but lost 6-3, 6-4 to the Skyline team of Kerry Gugliotto and Stefanie Johnson. The finish gave Mercer Island the fourth seed to state from the Sea-King district, something that both girls were happy about.

“I have never been to state before, so this will be a new experience,” said Carpenter. “We just have to fight for every point and we will see what we can do.”

Although the team has been together for over a year, they still think they can get better before state.

“Last year I played singles, so this is completely different strategy,” said Zemplenyi. “But we have some things we can work on before the tournament.”

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