MOUNT VERNON — When it comes to playing friend and rival Patrick Chung, Jackson’s Ben Mietzner just can’t seem to get over the hump.
Unless it’s the district tournament that is.
For the second straight year, the Timberwolves junior beat Cascade’s Chung in the 4A Northwest District 1 Tournament singles championship match 6-1, 6-4 to take the district title at Mount Vernon H.S. on Wednesday. It’s the only two times Mietzner has defeated Chung in his high school career.
“It’s kind of indescribable. I just came out with the belief that I could win,” said Mietzner, who lost to Chung in straight sets both times they met this season. “I had the theory to just win one point at a time and grinded out points and eventually won.”
Both Chung and Mietzner return to the state tournament, which will be held in Richland on May 30-31. Chung finished eighth at state last year and Mietzner went 1-2 but didn’t place.
Arlington’s Trent Sarver came from a set down to beat Kamiak’s Jimmy Hua 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 and take third place. The Eagles senior plays Kingco’s third-place finisher at Skagit Valley College on Saturday at 2 p.m. for the final berth to state.
It could have easily been over for Sarver on Wednesday, but a pep talk from his coach proved to be the difference.
“I told him you can play one more set for your high school career or play two sets and get to Saturday,” said Arlington head coach Sean Cunningham. “I said I thought he needed to play big and he did.”
After playing to Hua’s more rally-heavy game in the first set, Sarver turned to his game in the second set and won the set with big serves and a number of hard shots for winners, according to Cunningham.
“Trent played his game in second and third sets,” Cunningham said. “Trent came with power and really overpowered him. He ramped up his game and found that extra gear.”
In doubles play, Mount Vernon’s Casey Goodwin and Kyle Frederick defeated Snohomish’s Andrew Ivelia and Jory Strickland to take the district title. Both teams advance to state. Kamiak’s Dominic Lee and Garrett Peterson beat Jackson’s Peter Cung and Luke George 6-4, 7-5 in the third-place match and face a Kingco team on Saturday for the right to advance to state.
Wind played a role in Wednesday’s matches, especially in the singles championship match. Chung struggled with the wind, while Mietzner kept grinding out points and used the wind to his advantage.
“The wind was a big factor,” Mietzner said. “When I was against the wind I just kept blocking it back because I knew he was really hitting fast because he had the wind. I just tried my best to keep the ball in play and hoped he would miss it.”
After the match, the two friends shook hands and Chung had a simple message for Mietzner.
“He just came up and said ‘You got me again,’” Mietzner said. “I didn’t know what to say. I was still in shock a little bit because I didn’t expect this.”
The win was extra special for Mietzner because of offseason surgery that set him back and put into question whether or not he’d play singles at all this season. A surgery to remove an extra bone in his foot kept Mietzner from playing tennis most of the summer and Jackson coach David Hutt said he wasn’t sure the junior would be ready to go by the start of the season.
“He was struggling early in practices and I thought I may have to start him at doubles for half the season,” Hutt said. “But after the final practice I asked him if he was ready to go and he said he was. He’s had a great season.”
By winning his second district title, Mietzner joined a distinguished list of Jackson singles players who have won multiple district championships and made it 11 years out of 12 the singles district champion has been a Timberwolves player. Before Mietzner did it, Mitch Williamson, Micheal Chamerski, Richard Oam and Mike Reading were multiple district champs.
“I just feel honored to be in that group,” Mietzner said.
At Mount Vernon H.S.
Singles—Championship match: Ben Mietzner (Jac) def. Patrick Chung (Cas) 6-1, 6-4; third-place match: Trent Sarver (Arl) def. Jimmy Hua (Kam) 3-6, 6-2, 6-0; consolation semifinals: Hua def. Joseph Lee (Kam) 6-2, 6-2; Sarver def. Connor Ghirardo (Arl) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Doubles—Championship match: Casey Goodwin-Kyle Frederick (MV) def. Andrew Ivelia-Jory Strickland (Sno) 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(10); third-place match: Dominic Lee-Garrett Peterson (Kam) def. Peter Cung-Luke George (Jac) 6-4, 7-5; consolation semifinals: Cung-George def. Ryan Tsuji-Thu Yein (Lynn) 7-5, 6-4; Lee-Peterson def. Josh Yi-Bence Dare (Jac) 6-2, 6-4.