Double trouble


Sports editor

Judy Liening and Megan Havili have grown accustomed to each others tennis games. The Todd Beamer High School pair has been playing together for a third of their lives.

“Our first lessons were together at Bally’s (in Federal Way), like five years ago,” Havili said. “We were in grade school at the time and went on to Illahee.”

The constant practices have turned Liening, a freshman, and Havili, a sophomore, into two of the better tennis players in the South Puget Sound League — at any age.

“I usually have them playing against each other in practice,” Beamer coach Jeff Richards said. “They have quite the battles. They are very competitive.”

Those battles will now be fought together on the same side of the net.

The plan is for Liening and Havili to combine into a doubles team when the tennis postseason kicks off today at the South Puget Sound League Sub-District Tournament at Auburn High School. Competition will continue Monday and championship matches will be played Tuesday at Auburn Riverside.

Liening and Havili were voted by the league’s coaches as the South’s No. 2 seed entering sub-districts despite playing only a couple of matches together as a doubles team this season.

A bulk of their experience has been on the singles’ court. Both of them have excelled as solo players during the SPSL South Division regular season, racking up victory after victory. Havili finished unbeaten with a perfect 10-0 record and Liening lost only two matches at the No. 1 singles slot — one to Decatur’s Jamie Chan in three rugged sets and to Federal Way’s Kristen Yates Tuesday.

Both are quick to admit that singles is what their future holds. But, Richards convinced them that playing doubles would give them a better shot at heading to the state tournament.

“I like playing singles because it is just you out there,” Liening said.

“We decided to play doubles because I have two years left and she has three to go for singles,” Havili said. “I think we can go further in doubles. There are a lot of strong singles players. We can play singles when we get older.”

The pair came together late in the season for doubles’ matches against two of the better teams in the SPSL South. Liening and Havili showed they were going to be a force to be reckoned with in their first match together.

The Beamer girls downed last year’s league champions, Katie Schultz and Corrina Fabre from Jefferson, in straight sets.

Things didn’t go as well in the second doubles’ endeavour. Emerald Ridge’s Alyssa Ferry and Rachel Owens dispatched of Liening and Havili, 6-2, 6-2. Ferry and Owens, also a freshman and sophomore, went undefeated during the regular season and are the No. 1 seed entering the postseason.

“We didn’t play that well,” Liening said. “They are very consistent and had been playing together all season. That was our second match together. But I think they are beatable. We are really starting to work at it.”

The top-seven finishers at the SPSL Sub-District Tournament advance to West Central Districts, which will conclude May 22.

“We just want to go to state and do our best,” Havili said.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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