The Kamiak High School girls' tennis team has something special going with its four singles players, and that quartet carried the Knights to a 5-2 victory over Snohomish on Wednesday afternoon at Snohomish High School.
Wednesday's non-league meet featured the Wesco North-leading Knights against the Wesco South-leading Panthers in a contest for Snohomish County bragging rights.
But Kamiak's singles players -- Elaine Baik, Sally Park, Alyssa Gilbert and Jenna Gilbert -- took the suspense out of the meet in a hurry. Those four combined to drop just two games, and those two games both came after Jenna Gilbert was already leading 6-0, 4-0 at No. 4 singles. Kamiak's top three singles players all won 6-0, 6-0.
"They've worked hard all year long," Kamiak coach Heidi Bloemker said of her singles players. "They're strong players and it pays off during the season.
"It was a good match," Bloemker added about winning the battle of division leaders. "I was real proud of the girls, and they played well. Both teams played well."
Snohomish rallied in the doubles matches. The Panthers' No. 2 doubles team of Britt Wilson and Julia Young won 6-2, 6-1, and Snohomish's No. 3 doubles team of Amanda Gagnon and Shelby Short prevailed 6-3, 6-0. Even Snohomish's No. 1 doubles team of Brady Coad and Brielle Nicholas put up a good fight before falling 6-4, 6-4 to Zoe Jovanovich and Veronica Ann.
However, by the time the doubles matches were beginning to heat up, the singles matches were already coming to an end. Baik needed just 30 minutes to win her match, with Park finishing up just another five minutes later. It was clear early on that Kamiak was going to get all the points it needed to win the meet from its singles players.
"They have a very strong singles group, and they are legitimately six deep," Snohomish coach Dick Jansen said. "Their No. 1 doubles team, they're also USTA players. So we're looking at a different breed of cat as far as Kamiak is concerned and the players they have. We eventually catch up with them, but it's just so hard for anybody. I don't think they've lost a set in singles all year long."
The lynchpin of Kamiak's singles dominance was Baik, the Knights' No. 1 player. Baik, who placed third at the Class 4A state meet in 2009, took the 2010 high school season off to concentrate on national tournaments. But now as a senior she's returned to the high school courts, much to Kamiak's delight.
"We have very strong singles," said Baik, who will play at NCAA Division III Johns Hopkins University next season. "It's been holding our team up a lot, so it's a strong attribute for our team. We always count on our doubles, too, so overall we have a very strong team."
With Baik returning to her spot at No. 1 singles, and with the addition of freshmen Park and Jenna Gilbert this season, the Knights find themselves sporting an intimidating singles ladder. Jansen said he thought Kamiak's singles lineup was the best he's seen come through Wesco in recent memory.
"This is my strongest one-through-four lineup I've ever had," Bloemker said. "They've been doing well all through the season. If all goes well they will continue to do so."
Baik and Park both overpowered their opponents, using penetrating ground strokes to hit winner after winner. The Gilbert sisters topped their opponents using consistent play that was free of mistakes.
Snohomish's doubles teams used some solid net play to score some points for the Panthers. However, it wasn't enough to overcome Kamiak's powerful singles lineup.
"I was proud of our girls down the line," Jansen said. "We won second and third doubles and were very competitive at No. 1 doubles. But if you can't crack through in that singles lineup you don't have a chance."
Kamiak remained undefeated at 9-0. Snohomish fell to 8-2.
At Snohomish H.S.
Singles -- Elaine Baik (K) def. Gabby Wilson 6-0, 6-0; Sally Park (K) def. Meredith Coad 6-0, 6-0; Alyssa Gilbert (K) def. Audrey Zahina 6-0, 6-0; Jenna Gilbert (K) def. Christie Clarke 6-0, 6-2. Doubles -- Zoe Jovanovich-Veronica Ann (K) def. Brady Coad-Brielle Nicholas 6-4, 6-4; Britt Wilson-Julia Young (S) def. Melanie Martinell-Angela Oh 6-2, 6-1; Amanda Gagnon-Shelby Short (S) def. Monica Chan-Christina Cho 6-3, 6-0. Records -- Kamiak 9-0. Snohomish 8-2.
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