Sports

Beamer looks like team to beat in the South

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

This might be the year for the Todd Beamer girls tennis team. Head coach Jeff Richards returns his entire roster from a season ago and also brings in three talented newcomers, who will fight for playing time on the varsity.

The Titans finished up a disappointing 8-6 in the South Puget Sound League South Division last season after entering the year as a favorite to win the league championship.

But expectations might be even a little higher this year, according to longtime Thomas Jefferson head coach Andrew Buchan.

“With strength up top, outstanding depth and a superior coach in Jeff Richards, they are the team we will be chasing,” he said.

Richards, however, isn’t ready to make any SPSL South championship predictions.

“I tried that once before and karma got the better of us,” Richards said. “So I will leave the predictions for other coaches.”

The Titans’ strength up top is highlighted by Judy Liening and Megan Havili. The pair played much of last season as the No. 1- and 2-singles players before teaming up in the postseason.

The pair eventually finished as the second-best doubles team in the state after ending up fourth two years ago. Liening and Havili should be the favorites to win the Class 4A doubles title this year, thanks to the graduation of last year’s winners from Bellarmine Prep.

Other returners for Beamer include senior Ann Nguyen, juniors Lauren Tran, Sam Bowman and Deena Lee and sophomore Esther Song.

Richards will also be counting on newcomers Angela Suh, Alex Lee and Kimberly Hong.

“Our team strengths are experience from last year and lots of depth and flexibility,” Richards said. “But we sometimes do not practice with enough intensity and drive.”

The Titans will have a tough early-season test tomorrow when they travel to Decatur to open the SPSL South season.

Jefferson

The Raiders and head coach Andrew Buchan continue to have one of the best tennis programs around and things shouldn’t change this season.

Jefferson returns several players from last season’s 12-2, second-place team.

Corinna Fabre leads the list of TJ returners after finishing in sixth place at the 2004 state championships in doubles.

Also back for the Raiders will be seniors Claudia Miernowski, Sarah Lee and Mimy Tu and juniors Darcy Idler and Anna Wilson. Buchan will also be counting on several newcomers to provide some points during the season, including freshman Carli Kitsch, sophomore Allie Guerrero and juniors Jenny Fullmer, Rebecca Bunting and Staci Odenwalder.

The Raiders opened their season yesterday against Federal Way and host a big match Tuesday against the Decatur Gators.

Decatur

The 2006 season marks the final hurrah for longtime tennis coach Steve Escame. Escame has coached boys and girls tennis for the last 30-plus seasons and racked up over 500 total victories.

He will try to add to that number with a fairly inexperienced Gator squad this season. Decatur returns senior Jill Humes, juniors J’aime Moehlman, Kiley Frazier and Korina Heard. Newcomers Cheri Mills, Adrienne Lee, Lexi Steffens and Amanda Son will also be counted on to provide the Gators with some depth.

“We will start out the season with a lot of experimenting,” Escame said. “I think we will be competitive by mid-season. Regardless, we will have a lot of fun — as usual.”

Decatur finished 9-5 last season in the SPSL South and Escame sees them ending up in the middle of the pack again this year. He thinks it will come down to a two-team race for the SPSL South title between Beamer and Jefferson, with defending champ Emerald Ridge, Puyallup and possibly Curtis fighting for third place.

The Gators host Todd Beamer tomorrow in their home opener.

Federal Way

The Eagles are looking to improve on last year’s 5-9 record in the SPSL South.

“I had some strong players graduate, but I predict that we will place somewhere around the middle,” said 10-year head coach Don Jacobus.

The returning players for the Federal Way include seniors sophomore Bree Rowe, who should occupy the No. 1-singles slot, and sophomores Marissa Ventura and Stephanie VanderWoulde, who are scheduled to team up at No. 1 doubles.

The Eagles host perennial power Curtis tomorrow in SPSL South action.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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