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Chris Rice has to work for district singles title
By CASEY OLSON
Decatur junior Chris Rice took the first step to defending his Class 4A state singles tennis championship Saturday by winning the West Central/Southwest District title.
But it wasnt easy.
Rice downed one of his good friends, Auburn Riversides Kyle Schraeder, in the district championship match, 6-4, 6-3. The two are doubles partners during the offseason. Rice needed only an hour to dispatch of Schraeder inside the fieldhouse at the University of Puget Sound Saturday, which wasnt the case in his semifinal against Hudsons Bay Spencer Mendoza.
Rice and Mendoza played an early-morning, three-hour classic with Rice winning, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3.
The match up between the last two state singles champions looked like it was going to be all Mendoza. The junior, who won the Class 4A crown as a freshman in 2003, broke Rices serve five times in his first eight service games during the opening two sets. After taking the first set, Mendoza rolled out to a 4-0 lead in the second set and seemed to have Rice thoroughly frustrated.
But Rice responded like the defending state champion, winning 10 of the next 11 games to down a stunned Mendoza. Rice and Mendoza also played a three-setter in the semifinals of last years state championships.
The title match against Schraeder was a little less dramatic, but still a good win for Rice. Schraeder was in control during the first six games of the first set rolling out to a 4-2 lead.
But, just like against Mendoza, Rice went on a roll, winning six games in a row to take the first set, 6-4, and roll to a 2-0 lead in the second set. He cruised to a 6-3 second-set victory.
The district championship also gave Rice an easier road into the state title match. Both Mendoza and Schraeder will be on the other side of the bracket Friday and Saturday at University and Central Valley high schools in Spokane.
Rice wasnt the only Federal Way school district representative in the finals at the West Central/Southwest District Tournament. Beamers Megan Havili and Judy Liening gave defending state doubles champions Alita Fisher and Katie Kennel of Bellarmine Prep a pretty good match, mostly in the first set of the girls doubles final Saturday at UPS.
But, in the end, the Bellarmine pair won all the big games, including eight out of nine games that went to duece, on the way to a 6-3, 6-0 victory.
Havili and Liening easily dispatched of Central Kitsaps Mika Botkin and Corinne LeTourneau in the semifinals, 6-2, 6-1.
The Beamer team will be joined by Jeffersons Leisha Muraki and Uyen Tran in the doubles draw at state. The TJ pair ended up in third place at districts with a win over Botkin and LeTourneau in the third-fifth match Saturday, 7-5, 6-1. Muraki and Tran were beaten up by Fisher and Kennel in the semis, 6-1, 6-1.
Decatur girls singles player Jamie Chan will play at another state tournament after finished third Saturday. Chan downed Bellarmines Amy Markhoff in the third-fifth match in a rugged three-setter, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. Bellarmine Preps Suzie Matzenauer beat Chan in the semifinals, 6-0, 6-1.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com