Sports

‘Trippel’ threat for tennis

Tennis takes aim at KingCo

By Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter

Last year the Mercer Island High School girls tennis team finished second in 3A KingCo and did not win the state title. For most high school sports programs that would not be news. But not too many high school sports programs have won 25 state championships.

“They are not even talking about it,” said Mercer Island High School tennis coach Joyce Hedlund. “They are really excited to go after it instead of being attacked.”

A loss to Newport during the regular season last year broke Mercer Island’s 12-year reign as 3A KingCo champions. But this time the Islanders have reloaded with some fresh faces and one very key senior. Islander Sheehan Trippel, who went to school in California last year, has returned to the team for her final season.

“She has such a great personality that brings a lot of life to the team,” said Hedlund. “Last year the girls talked about how much they missed her.”

The team missed more than her personality but also her play of the court. Trippel is expected to challenge for the No. 1 singles spot on the team.

Islander senior Amelia Carpenter was thrust into the role of No. 1 singles last season, but will return to No. 1 doubles with her partner, sophomore Michele Zemplenyi.

“They will start the year as doubles partners and we will see where it goes from there,” said Hedlund. “They really compliment each other well.”

Carpenter and Trippel, along with seniors Frannie Rudolf and Catlin Wallace will all be co-captains this year.

The biggest problem for Mercer Island this season might be the over abundance of players.

The team will need four captains as the program is back on the upswing according to Hedlund. Last year the team had 80 girls turnout. This year girls tennis had 107 on the first day of preseason workouts.

“I think that girls tennis should be a no-cut sport but it is difficult,” said Hedlund. “We have had some girls walk away. We can handle about 80 girls but we may have to keep about 86 this year.”

“We have so many girls that they may not get a chance to play much,” said Hedlund. “We need the younger girls to get experience and that is going to be difficult.”

Among some of the newest players in the program are freshmen Julia Zook and Julia Schubach and sophomores Erica Leong and Renata Smith.

Smith comes with high expectations as she is ranked very high by the United States Tennis Association and played in Arizona last year before transferring to Mercer Island. Schubach has been on Mercer Island for a long time and comes with a local reputation.

“Julia Schubach is going to be good,” said Hedlund. “It has been a while since we have had players who only play tennis. It has probably been a decade since we have had this kind of strength.”

The Islanders will have to fend off challenges from Issaquah and Skyline during league meets. Skyline is one team that can nearly match Mercer Island in terms of the number of players. But depth is something different.

“They have two pretty good girls and a big team so there has to be some talent in there,” said Hedlund.

Another team that Mercer Island will be looking to beat is Newport.

“They have lost a few girls but we can’t overlook them,” said Hedlund.

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