Sports

Rice wins state tennis championship

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Another year, another state championship for Decatur’s Chris Rice.

The junior rolled to his second consecutive Class 4A boys tennis singles title Saturday at Spokane’s University High School. Rice downed a familiar foe — Hudson’s Bay junior Spencer Mendoza — in the final match with relative ease, 6-1, 6-4.

“I played real good in the final,” Rice said. “There was a little more pressure this year because I won it last year. It was a little different. People were kind of out for me.”

Rice’s last two matches against Mendoza — last year’s state semifinals and last week’s West Central District semis — were both three-set marathons. Rice won both of them and made it 3-for-3 Saturday.

But Rice did have a little tougher match in the semifinals. He needed three sets to oust Olympia’s Eric DeBusschere, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.

“I don’t know what happened in that match,” Rice said. “I finally relaxed a little bit and got it done.”

Rice rolled into the semis with easy straight-set victories in the first two rounds over Jackson’s Alex Yee, 6-2, 6-3, and Ferris’ Whitman Hough, 6-4, 6-1.

“I played a little better in the finals than in my other matches,” Rice said. “It was a lot different playing outdoors than inside. It was a little windy over there.”

Last week’s West Central District tournament was played indoors at the University of Puget Sound.

Rice’s second-straight title was pretty much expected. But the performance of the Todd Beamer High School girls doubles team of Megan Havili and Judy Liening was a little more of a surprise.

The Titan pair ended up in second place in the Class 4A tournament, losing in the final match to Bellarmine Prep’s Alita Fisher and Katie Kennel, 6-4, 6-0. The state championship was the Bellarmine pair’s third straight.

Havili, a junior, and Liening, a sophomore, finished fourth in last year’s state championships after losing their first-round match.

The Titan pair had little trouble rolling into the championship this year. Havili and Liening downed a Davis pair in their opener, 6-4, 6-2. Their quarterfinal match with Redmond’s Vianna Guittet and Lonnie Abbott started out slow. The Titans dropped the first set, 6-4, but rolled in the final two sets, 6-0, 6-1, setting up a semifinal match with Eisenhower’s Ciara Schultz and Katie Staudinger. Havili and Liening downed the Yakima team, 6-2, 6-3, to earn the berth in the final match.

Decatur senior Jamie Chan picked up a solid first-round win over Meadowdale’s Lauren Summers, 6-4, 6-0, to move into the quarterfinals Friday

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