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TENNIS PREVIEW: Jefferson in search of third-straight unbeaten season
The tradition of tennis at Thomas Jefferson High School just keeps rolling along. The Raider girls finished last season with a perfect 10-0 record to claim the program's second-straight South Puget Sound League Central Division championship.
Head coach Andrew Buchan has built an SPSL dynasty during his 25 years at the helm of both the TJ girls and boys and this season shouldn't be any different.
The Raiders return five players who saw significant varsity time last season, including a pair of state-tournament veterans in senior Cindy Park and sophomore Crystal Lee.
"No team in the SPSL has the combination of state veterans and depth that TJ has," Buchan said. "Thus, the Raiders should be the favorites once again to win league."
Park is shooting for her third appearance at the state tournament and is set to slot into the No. 1 singles position during the regular season. But Park will, most likely, team with Lee when the postseason rolls around. Lee and Park played doubles together last season and finished 1-2 at the state tournament.
"They could compete for a state title this year," Buchan said.
Also back for Jefferson will be seniors Crystal Lee, Gloria Oh and Coco Hernandez-Tagoe, along with junior Rileigh Qualls. Oh and Hernandez-Tagoe will occupy one doubles' team and Qualls will be playing with freshman Makaylie Moore. Other strong newcomers will be seniors Bethany Stellick, junior Erica Lee, sophomore Kayla Stellick and freshman Estella Kim.
It looks like Jefferson's main competition in the SPSL Central Division will be the Auburn Trojans. Auburn returns three-time state tournament veteran Lauren Thornquist.
"Lauren has been the best player in the SPSL for the past two seasons and should win the SPSL singles title for the third consecutive year," Buchan said. "Auburn will be very competitive this year."
Auburn will host Jefferson in the key match during the SPSL Central regular season on March 27.
It looks like it's going to be a rebuilding year for the Todd Beamer Titans and head coach Pat Nam. The Titans finished in second place in the SPSL Central last year with an 8-2 record. Their only two losses came to TJ. But Beamer lost its top-nine players from a season ago.
The Federal Way Eagles are looking to improve on last year's 0-10 season, but also return a fairly inexperienced lineup. Head coach Josh Agapalza lost four solid players from a season ago in Lauren Lang, Mina park, Allie Bentler and Jessica Bone.
The Decatur Gators should be improved in the SPSL 3A Division. Head coach John Cassens' team started the league season with a 3-2 win over Lakes. The Gators won all three doubles' matches, led by the No. 1 team of Maddy Bergstrom and Rebekah Kim.
Decatur's roster also includes Anna Jo, Jessica Garcia, Dayoung Chung, Hyerin Song, Camille Sessoms and Maria De Miguel.