MIHS boys tennis squad is rolling through 3A KingCo

Islanders have netted undefeated record.

Islander enthusiasm is at a premium, the serves are booming and the high-fives are hefty and plentiful.

Those are just a few ways how the senior-heavy Mercer Island High School boys tennis squad has been rolling this season as the Islanders headed into their final week of the regular 3A KingCo campaign.

Following a dominating 6-1 home victory over rival Bellevue on Oct. 10, the locals remained atop the league table with an undefeated mark. After defeating Liberty (Renton), 7-0, the following afternoon, the Islanders sported a 10-0 league record and 11-0 overall tally. At press time, they had outscored their opponents 72-5 in the 11 matches.

Captain Ajay Manhas is one of 10 seniors on the squad and said that nine of those guys have played together since their freshman year.

“I feel like we just have really good team chemistry. We all get along, we all know how to play with each other, so that’s a big part,” he said. “Our team really focuses on net play and volleys.”

At doubles, Manhas has partnered with junior Nathan Wen again this season after the duo notched third place at the state tournament last spring. Other key doubles players are senior captains and partners Brandon Chew and Noah Perlman (sixth-place state finishers last spring) and the duo of seniors Luka Laban and Cohen Kolbe.

On the singles front, senior Hanri Luo, sophomore Gian Manhas, junior Sam Dilworth and junior Kai Manson lead the way for the team, which is coached by Ron Akins and Billy Poll. Luo took eighth at state last spring as the Islanders finished third in the team standings. Last fall, the Islanders won the league regular-season and tournament championships.

Following the Bellevue victory, Perlman said the Islanders are fired up for more matches to come. Massive serves and consistency were key elements to beating Bellevue a second time, he said, adding that the Islanders always raise their potency level a notch against their rival.

On pairing up with Chew for the last three years, Perlman noted: “We’re really energetic when we’re playing these teams. We’re always having fun, high-fiving all the time.” Their chemistry and communication is vital when they step onto the court and unleash their tennis skills.

Chew said the Islanders will need to be prepared, dedicated and keep their heads high in order to again achieve postseason success. Over the last four years, the seniors have grown on and off the court and have taken the initiative to mentor the younger players along the way.

Akins brings heaps of optimism to the court, said Chew, adding: “I think that he’s always ready for us to play the next point and for us to really stay positive in the matches. A big part of tennis is having that strong mental game.”