Two doubles, one single to districts for girls tennis: Carpenter and Zemplenyi take No. 2 seed

Chasing its 27th state title, the Mercer Island girls tennis team came through the 3A KingCo tournament with two doubles teams and one singles player qualifying for the district meet on May 7 at Skyline. And while the Islanders didn’t grab a No. 1 seed, the five players are one less than the limit for one team, keeping the dream of another state title alive.

“I think we are ready for whatever comes our way,” said Islander senior Amelia Carpenter. “We only have one girl who hasn’t played at districts on our team so we can use our experience to our advantage.”

Carpenter and teammate Michelle Zemplenyi dispatched both of their Liberty High School opponents during the first two rounds. The semifinals put Mercer Island at a disadvantage, playing the host team’s No. 1 pairing. Despite the hot sun and long rallies, the Mercer Island team prevailed 6-3, 6-3. But the match took its toll on Carpenter and Zemplenyi.

“Being out in the sun was hard,” said Carpenter. “Two hours of playing during the finals was too much.”

The girls settled for second with a loss to rival Newport, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.

“They had a different strategy than the first three teams,” said Zemplenyi. “We were kind of tired but we still get a bye during the first round of districts.”

Islander Sheehan Trippel, who played in California last season, battled through her first KingCo tournament to take the No. 4 seed to districts. Trippel cruised through the first two rounds on May 5, 6-0, 6-0, and a 6-4, 6-2.

But she also struggled in the heat during the second day, losing her semifinal match 6-4, 7-5 and her consolation final 6-1, 6-1.

The last seed to districts for the Islanders came as Lauren Smith and Olivia Kristof earned the sixth and final doubles seed to districts. Smith and Kristof won their first-round match 6-1, 6-2 but had trouble with the Newport team that beat Zemplenyi and Carpenter during the championship final. The Knights took the second-round match 6-3, 6-3. Smith and Kristof lost their final match to another Newport team 6-1, 7-5.

Islander Julia Schubach’s season came to an end during the tournament, but not before she gained some experience for next season. The freshman shut out her first-round opponent from Bellevue 6-0, 6-0, but struggled against the eventual KingCo champion from Sammamish (6-0, 6-0).

The girls team, along with the Mercer Island boys tennis team, which played its regular season during the fall, began the district tournament Tuesday (after Reporter deadline) and will continue district play today at Lower Woodland Park for the right to continue on to state in Eastern Washington.

“It is a five-hour drive to the middle of nowhere,” said Zemplenyi. “If we get there, we will be ready.”

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