By CASEY OLSON, The Mirror
The Decatur Gators girls tennis team finished up in second place in the South Puget Sound League North Division a season ago. Second-year head coach John Cassens returns a bulk of the lineup that rolled out a 12-2 record in the North.
“We should be pretty good,” Cassens said. “We have a lot of girls coming back.”
Leading the list of returners is Sara Lin. The sophomore competed all last season as the Gators’ No. 1 singles player and rolled to the SPSL North Division title. Lin barely missed out on qualifying for the Class 4A state tournament after losing at districts.
But Lin won’t be Decatur’s No. 1 this season. That honor will go to freshman Meghan Cassens, the daughter of the Gators’ coach. Meghan Cassens is one of the top junior tennis players in the Pacific Northwest. Meghan Cassens is currently the No. 2-ranked player in the region and is could be one of the top contenders to win the 2008 Class 4A state title.
In her first two high school matches, Cassens hasn’t lost a single game. she played singles in her opening match and teamed with Jen Kanesta on Tuesday to beat Federal Way’s Marisa Ventura and Amanda Tran, 6-0, 6-0.
Decatur will also be counting on Cindy Kang, Megan Lintelman and Amanda Sun to score some points during the season.
Kentwood looks like the team to beat again in the SPSL. The Conquerors won the North Division title last year with a 13-1 record and shut out Jefferson on Tuesday. Kentidge should also have a strong team.
The Beamer girls program returns this season as the defending SPSL South champions. But first-year coach Brent Brilhante will not have the services of several players from the 13-1 championship team, including Judy Liening. During her career at Beamer, Liening played in three state tournaments, finishing second in doubles in 2006 and fifth last year in singles’ action. But the Titans do bring back several players with varsity experience in Esther Song, Melissa Canfield, Jessika Sutcliff and Kimberly Hong.
“I think this team has some depth and the ability to throw out a few strong and very different line-ups,” Brilante said. “But we lost a lot of senior talent from last year.”
Jefferson should be better than last year’s 7-7 team. Longtime coach Andrew Buchan brings back seniors Allie Guerrero, Kendall Swynenburg and Kelli Nakamura, along with sophomores Averi Kitsch and Caroline Min. Newcomers Mackenzie Qualls, Emily Tu, Vanessa Sariego and Savannah Coe will also provide some depth.
Federal Way should also be improved after finishing just 2-12 in the SPSL North.
The Eagles return a bulk of their lineup from last season, including seniors Megan Stokes, Katie Ohmie, Marisa Ventura and Megan Pinches, along with juniors Amanda Tran, Vickie Quach, Susan Huynh and Paige Edmiston.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org
Coach: John Cassens
Last year’s record: 12-2 (second place in the SPSL North)
Strong returners: Soph. Sara Lin, Sr. Cindy Kang, Sr. Megan Lintelman and Sr. Amanda Sun
Top newcomer: Fr. Meghan Cassens
Key losses: Korina Heard, Kiley Frazier, Adrianne Lee, Jaime Moehlman and Stephanie Shepherd.
Federal Way Eagles
Coach: Don Jacobus
Last year’s record: 2-12 (seventh in North)
Strong returners: Sr. Megan Stokes, Sr. Marison Ventura, Jr. Amanda Tran, Sr. Katie Ohmie, Jr. Vickie Quach, Sr. Megan Pinches, Jr. Susan Huynh and Jr. Paige Edmiston
Top newcomer: Fr. Haley Ward
Key losses: Jessica Maderos, Bree Rowe and Krysta Wert
Coach: Andrew Buchan
Last year’s record: 7-7 (fourth in North)
Strong returners: Sr. Allie Guerrero, Sr. Kendall Swynenburg, Sr. Kelli Nakamura, Soph. Averi Kitsch and Soph. Caroline Min
Top newcomers: Soph. Mackenzie Qualls, Jr. Emily Tu, Soph. Vanessa Sariego and Fr. Savannah Coe
Key losses: Darcy Idler, Jenny Fullmer, Brittany McKay, Rebecca Bunting, Lamanda Carterman, Carli Kitsch and Leigh-Anne Chung
Coach: Brent Brilante
Last year’s record: 11-3 (second in SPSL South)
Strong returners: Esther Song, Melissa Canfield, Jessika Sutcliff and Kimberly Hong
Top newcomer: Ruth Yi
Key losses: Judy Liening, Deena Lee, Sam Bowman, Lauren Tran and Thayer Nielsen