MEGAN LALONE, STANWOOD
This may be the year for the Spartans senior to take that final step. The past two years, LaLone finished as runner-up in the Class 4A girls tennis championships, including last year when she lost to rival Elaine Baik in the final. LaLone, who has verbally committed to play for Boise State next year, is the favorite to win a district title and is strong contender to bring a state title home to Stanwood.
SARAH TUEMMLER, MARYSVILLE PILCHUCK
Tuemmler is a senior and has been one match away from going to state the past two seasons. Her Tomahawk teammates voted her the Most Valuable Player on the team in 2011, a year in which she won all of her matches in two sets with the exception of her two losses to Megan LaLone of Stanwood. Tuemmlers coach, Nathan McClellan, said Tuemmler is a very committed player and plays with confidence.
JENNA AND ALYSSA GILBERT, KAMIAK
The Gilbert sisters — Jenna, a sophomore, and Alyssa, a senior — battle back-and-forth for singles position during the regular season. Last year, however, the two teamed up as a doubles pair in the postseason, placing in the top 12 at state. The two have been playing tennis for the past five years and have competed together in several United States Tennis Association (USTA) tournaments. Alyssa begins the 2012 season as Kamiak’s No. 3 singles player, while Jenna begins the season at No. 2. Both players will compete as singles players throughout the season, but Kamiak coach Heidi Bloemker said there is a strong chance they will return as a doubles team for the postseason.
NADEAN AL-ALI, GLACIER PEAK
Glacier Peak coach Micah Perron said Al-Ali is one of the most determined players he has ever coached. The junior came up one place short of making it to state in 2011 and her goal is to best that this season. Al-Ali has worked in the offseason to improve her fitness, quickness and consistency and returns to the Grizzlies as the No. 1 singles player and captain of the team. Perron said Al-Ali’s success depend on execution and how she handles herself mentally, but he added that she has the talent to make a run at a state championship.
SALLY PARK, KAMIAK
Park is just a sophomore, but had a very successful season as a freshman, finishing second at districts and fourth at state as Kamiak’s No. 2 singles player. Park’s coach, Heidi Bloemker, said Park has been competing for the past 10 years and spends a lot of time outside of school training and competing in tournaments. Park’s long-term goal for the season is to return to the state tournament, but in the short-term she will try to be a competitive force in Wesco and should be in the mix for Kamiak’s No. 1 singles spot.