Purchase Photo Reprint Weekly Herald/CHRIS GOODENOW
Mountlake Terrace's Gillian Braden-Armstrong returns the ball in front of teammate Nicole Bouche during their Wesco 3A girls doubles semi-final tennis match against Shorecrest's Haley Monson and Janie Uppinghouse, Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at Jackson High School in Mill Creek.
The two, who had mostly played singles, had only two doubles matches during the regular season.
Turns out that and some practices were more than enough: Braden-Armstrong and Bouche did not lose a set en route to a first-place finish May 9 at Jackson High School.
The Mountlake Terrace duo defeated Shorewood's Francesca O'Malley and Daniella Brengelmann 7-6, (7-5), 7-5 in the championship match. Braden-Armstrong and Bouche trailed 5-2 in the second set before reeling off five consecutive games to claim the doubles championship.
The two learned a valuable lesson.
“We kind of had to regroup and figure out what we were doing wrong,” Braden-Armstrong said. “We said we've got to get back in it like we were in the first set.”
The two thought they already had the match in hand.
“I think we just got too cocky and overconfident,” Braden-Armstrong said.
After every point and every game, Braden-Armstrong said she and Bouche encouraged each other to remember their strategy and the mental part of the game.
“We were just more focused,” Bouche said. “I don't really know how to explain it. It was kind of a blur for me. We just worked together.”
Mountlake Terrace coach Alberto Ramirez thought that pairing his top two singles players was a good idea and after winning a Sub-District title, Braden-Armstrong and Bouche have to agree with him.
“We're really excited about it,” Braden-Armstrong said. “We clicked really well at Sub-Districts. We always felt confident in the matches. I think that's what put us through. We would communicate really well. We're pretty good friends. It works out well in the end.”
Coming into last week's tournament, Bouche said she and Braden-Armstrong didn't feel any pressure.
“We just wanted to try our best and whatever happens, happens,” Bouche said.
Bouche, a freshman, played No. 1 singles, while Braden-Armstrong was No. 2 singles. Bouche thought Ramirez' idea of pairing her and Braden-Armstrong made sense.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity for us to play together,” Bouche said. “It worked out.”
While many believe that the best doubles partners complement each other in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, Braden-Armstrong sees a lot in common between herself and Bouche.
The two both started playing tennis at a young age.
“Nicki and I have a lot of the same qualities as a tennis player,” Braden-Armstrong said. “We know how to play the ball. We know the mind game of tennis. We know how to place balls. … We're both focused. We both wanted the title as much as the other one did. As a doubles team we fit really well together because we have the qualities. We're both pretty competitive.”
Though this is her first year of playing high school tennis, Bouche is a veteran when it comes to the mental part of the game.
“You don't see that in a lot of freshman players,” Braden-Armstrong said.
The Western Conference 3A tournament, which includes the North Division, is scheduled for May 15-16 at Glacier Peak High School. Only the top two finishers in singles and doubles advance to the state tournament.
Braden-Armstrong is looking forward to the tournament.
“I feel good about being partners with Nicki and seeing how far we've come,” she said.
“We're just going to work hard and work as a team,” Bouche said. “We're going to keep our mind set and not let anything faze us.”
Braden-Armstrong and Bouche opened the Sub-District tournament with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Shorewood's Stephanie Ngy and Sarah Kim and then beat Everett's Tierney Bagley and Adrienne Muramoto 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals on May 8.
The Mountlake Terrace duo dispatched Shorecrest's Haley Monson and Janie Upperhouse 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals on May 9.
Also moving on to the Wesco 3A tournament is Lynnwood's Monica Kwong, who finished third in singles.
Lynnwood junior Cristina Borsan finished sixth in singles and Hannah Ham and Arianna Garcia placed fifth in doubles.
“To have four players moving on the same year is huge,” Lynnwood coach Rob McMains said.
In the Wesco 4A South Division tournament, Edmonds-Woodway freshman Myint-Zu Kyaw lost to Kamiak's Sally Park 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the singles finals May 9 at Jackson High School. Edmonds-Woodway's Hanna Rehnfeldt-Mikala Valdez took third place in doubles. Kyaw, Rehnfelt and Valdez are scheduled to play in the District 1 tournament May 15-16 at Jackson High School.