Tennis: TJ and FW players fight for wins in district tournament

The tennis regular season ended for the NPSL on Oct. 11. Each team is allowed nine players to compete in the year-end district tournament: Three singles players and three doubles teams. This is the first time that a third singles player has been added to competitive play, so many teams see an opportunity to let younger players get a shot at the varsity level.

The Federal Way high school teams are in a similar situation as the Kent schools, with half of the teams being class 4A schools and the other half being in 3A.

On the 3A singles side, Thomas Jefferson had an extremely strong showing from freshman Sanchit Sharma, who was relatively unknown to his coach at the beginning of the year at TJ, but has really come into his own this season. Sharma finished second overall out of the three seed. He never lost a set until the championship match with Auburn Riverside senior Leo Seo.

Another TJ singles player arguably had the biggest upset of the entire tournament — junior Titus Kim took down the number one seeded player, senior Cole Fredricks from Kentlake, in straight sets. Kim, after entering the losers bracket, took down Auburn senior Gabe McNichols in a nail-biting match that went to a 10-point tiebreaker. Kim won 10-6, securing him third place. Todd Beamer didn’t have a player make it outside the second round, falling to Sharma and Kim in that round. At the 4A level, Decatur struggled — not one of the three singles players made it to round two, all falling in straight sets. Federal Way also didn’t have a great showing, and the only singles victory was junior Marcus Caoagdan. His lone victory was over Decatur in the first round, beating senior Kevin Austria.

Doubles was another story for every school with each school having at least one team make it to the semi-finals.

Federal Way captured the only championship for any schools in the district. It came from their second-seeded first doubles team made up of senior Caleb Hyun and fellow senior Alex Kim. The Eagles dominated the competition on their way to the finals match up.

In the finals, they took on Kentridge’s Huy Le and Travis Nguyen. After winning the first set 7-6, Kentridge took set two 7-6, but in the end, Federal Way prevailed, winning the final set 6-4. For Decatur, that doubles pairing would be a combo of seniors, Samuel Dutenhoffer and Eric Kim. Their ride ended, losing to Le and Nguyen from Kentridge. Dutenhoffer and Kim did defeat a doubles team from Tahoma (Hoerle/Ball) and Mount Rainier (Neer/Dutoit).

The Decatur pair would lose their third-place battle to Heater and Pare from Kennedy Catholic and lock up fourth place for the Gators.

Back at the 3A level, a freshman and a senior from Thomas Jefferson, Vincent Pham and Ankit Gowda, made their run into the semi-finals, beating Auburn’s number three in straight sets, and Auburn Moutainview’s number one also in straight sets. Their loss came to the runner-up Rangel and Legespi from Kent-Meridian. In that match, Pham and Gowda won the first set 6-2, and dropped the following set 2-6. The tiebreaker was also tightly contested with the Royals edging out the Raider pair 10-8.

Todd Beamer’s team had its own little upset on the road to the semis. They took down Auburn Riverside’s number two team, who was also the number four seed. Beamer was fifth overall. Sinn and Nguyen were the only doubles team to take two games from the Cegielski twins all tournament and they took three, losing 6-2, and 6-1. Both Beamer and TJ met in the third-place match, and Gowda and Pham took third in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. For Sinn and Nguyen, they had one more match to play against the Riverside team they had beaten previously. This time, Bateman and Battista took down the Titan duo.

The first set went to the Ravens. Sinn and Nguyen came back to win the second set 6-2, and in the tiebreaker, Auburn Riverside came out on top 10-8.

At the next final tournament before state, only three teams at the 3A level in Federal Way made it into the draw, all from Thomas Jefferson. Senior Ankit Gowda and freshman Vincent Pham lost their first two matches and were eliminated. TJ freshman Sanchit Sharma also had similar fate to his number one doubles team, falling in two matches. The other competitor was junior Titus Kim, who lost his first match against the eventual bracket winner Johnny Wood from River Ridge. He then won his next match against Drew Pitezen from Lakes. Titus then fell in the third round to Evergreen senior Trevin Livingston in straight sets.

Federal Way had the best showing of all the Federal Way schools. The Eagles doubles team comprised of seniors Hyun and Kim lost their first match of the tournament, but went on to win four matches in a row and took fifth place, which qualified them for the state tournament. The only other team that competed was Duttenhofer and Kim for Decatur, and that team dropped its first two matches en route to elimination.

The next round of playoff tennis commences at the Boeing Employee Tennis Club for the West Central District tournament. For 3A the tournament, the top six finishers qualify for stateat the Vancouver Tennis Club May 26-27. In the 4A class, only the top five qualify for state in Kennewick at Kamiakin High School and the Pacific Center, which also takes place May 26-27.