Decatur’s Cassens cruises to district crown

Meghan Cassens has won plenty of tournaments during her tennis career.

Meghan Cassens has won plenty of tournaments during her tennis career.

The Decatur freshman can add one more to her resume after taking the singles title at Saturday’s West Central District Tennis Tournament at Spanaway’s Sprinker Recreation Center.

Cassens is the No. 1-ranked junior girls player in the state of Washington who already rolled to the South Puget Sound League title. She downed Gig Harbor’s Christy Sipes in the district final, 6-4, 6-2.

Cassens and Sipes know each other’s games inside and out. The two play all the time as members at the Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club and also play with each other in doubles action.

Sipes, a sophomore, finished second at last year’s Class 4A State Championships and both players entered Saturday’s district championship match unbeaten in singles play this season.

Cassens earned the berth in the title match by downing Kentridge’s Kim Quach on Friday in a semifinal, 6-1, 6-3.

The Decatur freshman will take on Wenatchee’s Nicole Barnhart in the opening round of the 2008 Class 4A State Tennis Tournament on Friday at the Vancouver Tennis Center.

Cassens’ teammate, sophomore Sara Lin, will also be making the trek down Interstate 5 to Vancouver after finishing sixth at the West Central District Tournament. Lin lost to Bellarmine Prep’s Gina Bloemers in the fourth/sixth match Saturday in three sets, 2-6, 6-1, 7-5. Lin earned the automatic trip to state with a win over Kentwood’s Laura Araki in the consolation semifinals Friday, 6-1, 6-2. Lin was dropped into the consolation bracket with a quarterfinal loss to Sipes.

The TJ doubles team of Averi Kitsch and Mackenzie Qualls will also play in Vancouver after finishing seventh. Kitsch and Qualls beat Puyallup’s Kari Spane and Markee Murphy in the seventh/eighth match, 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-2.

The four Federal Way School District girls will be joined at the Class 4A State Tennis Tournament by Jefferson’s Joe Lee and Branden Muraki on the boys’ side.

Lee and Muraki won a huge one Saturday at Sprinker in a loser-out, winner-to-state match against Gig Harbor’s Corey Thompson and Mark Junge. After losing the first set, 6-4, the TJ pair came back to win the final two sets, 6-4, 6-2, to earn the district’s seventh and final seed into the state tournament.


It just wasn’t meant to be for the Thomas Jefferson fastpitch team. The Raiders (16-8) ended their season Friday afternoon at the West Central District Fastpitch Tournament at Spanaway’s Sprinker Recreation Center.

Jefferson dropped its only two games at the double-elimination tournament to Tahoma and Kentwood.

The Raiders, who finished second in the South Puget Sound League North Division, seemed to be in control of their opening-round game against Tahoma Friday. Jefferson rolled to a 4-0 lead after three innings. But the Bears roared back with 11 runs in their next three at bats to send TJ into the consolation bracket with an 11-9 win. Jefferson beat Tahoma (11-15) three times during the SPSL season by a combined score of 35-3.

The Raiders then were eliminated by Kentwood Friday, 3-2. The Conquerors overcame a 2-0 lead to tie the game in the fifth and Kentwood’s Laura Mittleider connected on a game-winning double in the bottom of the seventh to end TJ’s season.

The Raiders could muster only two hits off Kentwood pitcher Kirsten Shreve.

Last season, the Raiders rode the underdog role to their first appearance at the Class 4A State Fastpitch Championships since 2002. Jefferson finished in fourth place in the SPSL North in 2007 and were forced to win three-straight games at the district tournament to qualify for state.

The Raiders returned a bulk of the lineup that won two games at last year’s state tournament.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,