Sports

Rice, Decatur net SPSL championships – again

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Chris Rice’s march toward three-straight Class 4A state singles championships took a step forward Tuesday afternoon at the South Puget Sound League Sub-District Tournament.

Rice earned the league’s No. 1 seed into the West Central/Southwest District Tournament with a 6-1, 6-1 straight-set victory over Auburn Riverside’s Alex VanDershelden in the SPSL crossover championship match at Kent-Meridian High School. Rice beat Curtis’ Daniel Lee for the SPSL South title Monday, 6-2, 6-1. He lost a total of five games during the three-day tournament and hasn’t dropped a set all season.

“Chris was domi-nating,” said Decatur head coach Steve Escame. “He was slightly off, but he still hit enough winners and chased down many ungettable balls to still win easily. He almost always plays the important points well.”

Rice’s singles championship led the Gators to their second consecutive South Division tournament title. Decatur, who rolled through the regular season 14-0, totaled 41 team points, well ahead of second-place Puyallup (22 points). Jefferson finished third, Beamer was eighth and Federal Way ended up in ninth place.

Now the waiting game begins for high school tennis players in the SPSL. The West Central/Southwest District Tournament won’t tee off until May, followed by the Class 4A State Championships.

Jefferson’s Colin Okazaki will also play in the spring. Okazaki earned the SPSL’s No. 6 seed into the West Central/Southwest District Tournament after losing to Enumclaw’s Justin Clark in an SPSL crossover match, 6-4, 7-5. Okazaki ended up third in the SPSL South Tournament by beating Emerald Ridge’s Eric Olson in a rugged three-setter in the consolation final, 6-0, 7-6 (3-7), 6-4.

The Federal Way school district will also be well represented at districts in doubles’ action. Decatur’s Fabian Saenz and Lawrence Lin earned the SPSL’s third seed after beating Sumner’s Jon Hergert and Ryan Ottenad in the crossover match, 6-0, 6-1.

The Decatur pair lost in the SPSL South championship to Puyallup’s Konner Ayris and Scott Sullivan, 6-4, 6-0, to earn the South’s second seed into the crossover matches with the North Division.

Also advancing to the spring’s district tournament will be Decatur’s Travis Wagner and Tim Blackner. The pair earned the league’s No. 5 seed by beating Auburn Riverside’s Tyler Rivers and Trevor Casad in the fifth-sixth crossover match, 6-4, 6-2.

Jefferson’s John Poore and Chris Yoon were the hard luck team of the tournament. The pair had to default their final two matches, ending up in eighth place in the SPSL. The top-seven seeds advanced to districts.

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

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