Six tennis players to watch in 2013
Kamiak's Sally Park returns a shot against Myint-zu Kyaw last season.
Edmonds-Woodway Myint-Zu Kyaw tracks the ball before a serve during a match last season.
Chris Goodenow / For The Herald
Mountlake Terrace's Nicole Bouche returns a shot during a match last season.
Chris Goodenow / For The Herald
Everett's Kindall Gordon returns a shot during a match last season.
Park, Kamiak's No. 1 singles player the past two seasons, is coming off back-to-back fourth-place finishes at the 4A state tournament.
Kamiak head coach Heidi Bloemker said that because of Park's work ethic, it's not surprising the young Knight burst on to the high school tennis scene.
"It wasn't a fluke, like she got a fantastic draw or anything. She worked hard to get there and had a good chance to place," Bloemker said. "We knew it wouldn't be an easy road but she certainly showed what she was made of."
The junior plays tennis year round and, along with Jenna Gilbert who went to state in doubles last year, leads a strong Kamiak team. Bloemker said that her No. 1 singles player is a big part of the team.
"She isn't just someone who plays No. 1 and then is done with the team. She's very much a part of the team," Bloemker said. "She's very involved. … She cares about the team and cares that everyone does well."
She also thinks Park has a strong desire to get past fourth place at this year's state tournament.
"I'm sure one of her goals is to better her placement at state," Bloemker said. "She's improved since last year, so she's certainly on the right track."
Christine Wolf and Elle Shaughnessy
The top two singles players for Stanwood both worked hard this offseason. The duo has Stanwood head coach Trudy Abrams foreseeing an alternating battle all season for the Spartans' No. 1 singles slot.
"I think Christine will play No. 1 at times and Elle will for other matches," Abrams said. "They'll go back and forth."
Wolf played in the doubles district tournament last year, giving her the early advantage for Stanwood's No. 1 spot. But Abrams said Shaughnessy put a lot of work in during the offseason and comes into her senior year much improved, enough so to have her start the season as the Spartans' No. 1 singles player.
"It's the next level that they want to try to get to," Abrams said. "I know that both of them have that ambition to want to get there. Both of them work really hard in the offseason."
According to Abrams, the two play tennis very differently. "Christine's going to hit a lot of balls back to you. It's a little bit slower of pace," Abrams said. "Elle plays a little faster-pace game."
Abrams said that at the end of the season, the singles players might join forces for a fearsome doubles team. "They may come together toward the end of the season and do doubles," Abrams said.
As a freshman, Kyaw finished fourth at the district tournament and was an alternate to the 4A state tournament. Edmonds-Woodway coach Dan Crist said it's early in the season, but he expects Kyaw to be a strong player again this season.
"I don't know who else has come in this year, but she's a strong player," Crist said. "Based on what happened last year she should be in the mix."
Kyaw is entering her second season as the Warriors' No. 1 singles player, a tall task that Crist said the young Kyaw has handled very well thus far.
"A lot of it depends on the player. She seems to handle it well," Crist said. "I've been on teams where there's been problems but there hasn't been here. I think it's tough sometimes. You're a younger kid and you're coming up. But I think she's been pretty good about it in general."
Crist said he hasn't discussed this year's state tournament with Kyaw yet, but knows she was a little disappointed she didn't make it there last year. He expects her to be very motivated to get to state this season.
"The potential was there last year," Crist said. "She missed by one match. She doesn't need to make a lot of changes, she was pretty close."
Mountlake Terrace, So.
As a freshman last year, Bouche had a strong season playing singles. But come the postseason, Mountlake Terrace coach Alberto Ramirez decided to pair her with senior Gillian Braden-Armstrong and enter the duo as a doubles team.
"She was so young. I didn't want to throw her into the burner in the postseason," Ramirez said.
Bouche and Braden-Armstrong made Ramirez look like a genius, finishing fourth in the state doubles tournament.
Ramirez wasn't entirely surprised by the result. He said Bouche's maturity is one of her strongest attributes.
"She was only 14 last year when she was a freshman. Of course she was nervous (at state)," Ramirez said. "But she's a club player and her brother and sister played on the team before. She has played good competition in her family. But I was very amazed how mature she was mentally and tennis-wise. She played like she has been there forever. Great poise and maturity all-around."
Ramirez was the Hawks' junior varsity coach when Bouche's older brother was a senior, and coached her sister for three years on varsity. He's going to be sad when Bouche, the last child in the family, graduates in a few years.
"She's the last one in the family. I wish they had more," Ramirez said. "They're great kids and great players."
After finishing fifth in the 3A district tournament last year, the Seagulls' captain has Everett coach Tim Boyd excited for her junior campaign.
"She definitely has the potential to be one of the top kids this year," Boyd said. "It sets her up real well. I think last year really gave her that push to continue on. I know her goal this year is to do the best she can. … Her goal is working hard enough to get a state berth. It's going to be tough but I think it's well within her potential and capabilities to do that."
Gordon is working to improve on last year's finish, which Boyd thinks she'll be able to do -- even in a tough 3A classification.
"I know she's going to be competitive with the kids this year," Boyd said. "I think the goal she has, and we all have, is getting the opportunity to place well enough in conference and place at state. I think it's a very realistic goal for her."
Boyd is excited that Gordon is just a junior, which means he will have her at Everett for two more seasons.
"She's a good leader of the team. And we get her back next year," Boyd said. "That's sure nice."