Tennis team causes a racket

Audrey Gainey, Rachel Smith & Hunter McKenzie, Reporter

As the last seconds of the game tick by silence fills the air, there is nothing but the rhythmic sound of the ball as it bounces between the two players; their shoes squeak against the smooth court as they scramble to save it. This game isn’t like any other match of the season, it grants the winning team the ability to go to state. As the last point is scored only one team fills the air with shouts of victory, the Seahawk boys tennis team. They hadn’t taken home a league title in years, so this was an accomplishment.

“Hayden Skidmore and Christian Lewis won league and are heading to Kennewick for state in May. They received second at districts, first at league, and have a seated position at state,” Boys tennis coach Cheri Ausboe said. “We haven’t been league champs since 2007. This year was a comeback year. We lost to Enumclaw and Decatur early in the season, we had to not lose again to keep the top spot and the team managed to pull it off.”

Ausboe has abundant experience as a tennis coach since this is her thirteenth year coaching the Seahawks. She encourages the use of every player’s different qualities to help contribute to a strong and successful team.

“The players show up every day to work hard, they’re willing to play with different people. The best quality in them is how versatile they are, how they can switch partners in doubles to win matches,” Ausboe said.

Although the team has won league, only two have been chosen to continue. These players are duo Christian Lewis and Hayden Skidmore. For Skidmore and Lewis this will be their second year advancing to State, this time with hopes to advance further into the competition.

These two have had experience working together as a team as they have been paired as doubles not only this year but were also partners last year.

“Last year, Hayden and Christian received seventh or eighth place. They won one round but lost two, and once you lose two rounds, you’re out,” Ausboe said.  Skidmore believes he has improved immensely from last year.

“This year I worked on a lot of things. I improved on my serves, got more into shape and worked on the placement of my stance and my strategy,” Skidmore said. For Skidmore, head captain of the team, State holds a lot more importance than it does for most players.

“In tennis, it is difficult to get a college scholarship, winning State would help dramatically,” Skidmore said. “I think of myself as being more of a leader, and getting the team through. I was voted captain because I would always give motivational speeches, leading the team, making sure they were on task.”

With standards set high the two have watched their own teammates go head to head in order to secure their spots at State.

“The lowest part of the season was watching Josh Wagner and Domnick Sookbirsingh play each other, knowing that only one would go on,” Ausboe said.

Even after playing each other, the team stays as close as ever, as senior Dominick Sookbirsingh can attest too. “We’re a really close team. We get along really well,” Sookbirsingh said.

The players continue to act like a team, by offering their support to Lewis and Skidmore.

“When you’re in a match, and you’re down, you have to stay mentally tough. You have to think, ‘I know I can do this,’‘I can come back from this.’ You have to think positively,” Sookbirsingh said.

“We won league, even when we thought we couldn’t, just remember that,” senior Josh Wagner said. Wagner was nicknamed ‘the fighter’ for constantly diving for balls this season.

Although the team enjoys working together, Lewis and Skidmore will have to practice on their own until State.

“There is a rule, when the league ended November 2nd, we can’t practice until ten days before State. So the players have to practice themselves throughout the winter, its mostly on them now,” Ausboe said.

This means that Skidmore and Lewis will be taking their fate into their own hands, which doesn’t worry Ausboe.

“The players are very coachable. They have a really good work ethic. I’m looking forward to watching the boys play. They went to State last year but they didn’t make it far. They’re so much better now, both mentally and physically stronger. I’m really hoping to see them go farther into the competition,” Ausboe said.

The team won the sportsmanship award which was voted by the South Puget Sound League (SPSL) coaches. Lewis was voted player of the year, Skidmore and Sookbirsingh were voted all league honors.

“This was a comeback year, and it was a great season,” Ausboe said.