Kentwood outlasts young Rams
Two squads with limited experience in relation to last season battled on the tennis courts in Des Moines before Kentwood swept the two singles matches in a 4-1 Class 4A South Puget Sound League North Division match at Mount Rainier on Thursday, September 20.
Playing with the temperature in the middle 70's with a light breeze under mostly blue skies, the Rams fell to 1-5 while the Conquerors improved to 4-2.
Mount Rainier was heavily hit by senior status with seven players graduating from last spring's 3-6 fourth place squad.
Senior J.P. Postlewait is the key returner with strong experience. Freshman Anantish Vashist has added his name to early varsity play.
"I've never lost that many seniors at one time," stated Ram coach Tim Lee, who is in his 27th year at the helm. "Kepe (Bonner) has been injured and unable to run more than a few steps at a time. Today, he was moving better than he has been all season. He is definitely getting stronger. Our No. 1 doubles played competitively. Our No. 2's have been competitive all year. They just dug a really deep hole to get out of.
Kentwood started off quickly with experienced senior Patrick Daly registering a 6-0, 6-0, victory against sophomore Kevin Nguyen in No. 1 singles.
Beornecheol Shin and Tommy Pham quickly followed in a 6-0, 6-2, No. 2 doubles win against Ram players Austin Sharma and Tyler Andrews.
Junior P.J. Liu and Postlewait put up strong resistance before Conquerors Sawyer Scarff and Kramer Sims emerged with 6-3, 6-4, No. 1 doubles victory.
"It could have gone either way," said Liu. "We made few mistakes that cost us."
Kentwood's Jacob Sherren nailed down a two-set triumph against Justin Fortner at No. 2 singles just ahead of the most competitive action of the day.
Concluding action featured a three-set, tension filled thriller. Kentwood's No. 3 doubles combo of Austin Turnau and Mark Stroud fought to a 6-4 first set win before Bonner and Daniel Russell changed their approach for a 6-3 second set win.
Mount Rainier's duo broke to a 4-2 third set advantage, but the Conqueror tandem used a service break and a service hold to square the set at 4-4.
Undaunted and determined, the Ram pair fought through a long service game that featured 10 service break opportunities before Bonner and Russell finally gained a service break to lead 5-4. Bonner then served out the set at love, including Bonner's own awesomely excellent, whistling backhand down the middle alley that ended the friendly fracas.
"We let them control the net in the first set," said freshman Bonner. "We had to be more aggressive and use teamwork. We were calling out our shots. It was also important to focus on winning the match instead of just winning the point."