Bailey proving to be a force in singles

Going into this year’s girls tennis season, there was some question as to whether Islander sophomore Chelsea Bailey was ready to play singles during postseason play. As a freshman, Bailey and Michelle Zemplenyi dominated opponents all the way through the state tournament. But this year, Bailey is making an effective case for a singles run during May.

“This year, I really love playing singles,” said Bailey, who led the Islanders to three consecutive meet wins last week. “Last year, my nerves got the better of me and playing doubles with Michelle really helped.”

Bailey is undefeated this year, including an impressive 6-2, 6-0, straight sets victory against Anissa Bryant-Swift of Sammamish on Wednesday. The Islanders won the meet, 8-1.

“I think that the time is now for her to play singles,” said Hedlund. “Anissa is No. 2 in the league.”

Bailey may have a claim to that No. 2 position. Bailey beat Bryant-Swift 6-1, 6-3, during a tournament prior to their match in league play.

“The whole team was watching, and I started shanking balls, and I told myself, ‘I need to play like I did at the tournament,’” said Bailey. “It is a different mentality to play in front of your team.”

Bailey also picked up a straight sets victory, 6-1, 6-1, during the team’s 9-0 win against 4A Lake Washington and a 6-1, 6-2 win during her team’s 9-0 win against Juanita.

Shutouts for the Islanders are becoming a regular occurrence this season.

“The girls are very self-motivated,” said Hedlund. “When you have a team that is this dedicated, it is fun to be around.”

One reason for the team’s machine-like precision is the captains Zemplenyi, Erica Leong, Jessie Winterbauer and Adrianna Bernal.

“They are good leaders,” said Hedlund. “The parents are really engaged, and a number of girls worked all year. We haven’t had that in a while. We are all on the same page.”

Zemplenyi has also improved playing singles matches. The doubles specialist won a tough match against her Sammamish opponent 6-2, 7-6, and won 6-0, 6-0 during the match against Juanita.

Islander Kelly Crandall won three matches last week, giving up just four points, while Erica Baska also won three matches in consecutive days.

The Islander doubles teams, led by Julia Zook, Crandall and Julia Schubach, have been dominant. Schubach and Crandall played in the top spot against Lake Washington and won 6-2, 6-3, while Zook and Crandall won against Juanita, 6-2, 6-2. Zook and Schubach ran into some problems against Sammamish’s No. 1 team, losing 6-2, 7-5.

One of the biggest problems for the entire league has been the weather. Rain has forced the cancellation or postponement of nearly every match. But the team has been able to play all of its scheduled in-league matches so far this season.

“It is all kind of coming at once this week,” said Zemplenyi. “You never know how you’ll feel or if you’ll even play, so it is tough at times.”

Mercer Island is atop the 3A KingCo standings and is 6-0. That record will be put to the test again tomorrow when the team plays a 3:45 p.m. match against Bellevue.

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