By David Krueger Herald Writer
M egan LaLone has become somewhat of a regular at the 4A state tennis tournament.
For three years running she’s participated in the event, finishing in second place the past two and fourth during her freshman year. Now, as a senior, LaLone is hoping the fourth time is the charm as she tries to finish on top in her final year of high school tennis.
“I know she’d like to win first in state. She’s been at that door for the last two years,” said Stanwood coach Trudy Abrams.
LaLone would like to blow that door down. That quest will start with today’s district tournament, where LaLone will compete against eight other local tennis players for a chance to get back to the state tournament, a definite goal she’s had for her senior year.
“Well, I’m hoping to win it, but I don’t know. There’s some really tough players. I’m just going for fun. It’s senior year,” LaLone said laughing.
The Boise State commit has had success at the state tournament, but a first-place finish has eluded her. Her freshman year she lost her first-round match to the eventual state champion, Decatur’s Meghan Cassens, but won four straight matches after to finish in fourth place.
In 2010, LaLone didn’t face Cassens until the title game, where she fell 1-6, 3-6. With Decatur moving to 3A, last season she faced a new opponent, Kamiak’s Elaine Baik, with a similar result.
“I think she has the opportunity to get first in state,” Abrams said. “I don’t know what’s out there, but from what we saw last year I think she has the opportunity to take it all.”
During her final year at Stanwood, LaLone has mixed in some doubles during the season, just for fun. Abrams said that this season they haven’t really talked much about the state tournament.
“We just play tennis,” Abrams said.
LaLone has been playing tennis since she was 5, when she would hit around on a court with her mother Noni. She began taking full-time lessons at 12 and now plays for a couple hours a day six to seven days a week.
Even with all that tennis, LaLone still seems to thoroughly enjoy the sport.
“I think she enjoys it a lot,” Noni LaLone said. “I think because she started so late she hasn’t really lost that fire, that passion for it. I think when you start super early a lot of the girls tend to kind of burn out, but she hasn’t really burnt out. And I don’t think she will, actually. She really, really enjoys it.”
Noni, who attends many of the Spartans’ practices and matches, said she used to get nervous watching her daughter play at the state tournament. But now she just enjoys the “proud parent moment.”
“I think she’ll do OK (at the state tournament),” Noni said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of expectations on her … Our goal is for her just to go and have fun.”
Megan LaLone credits her mother with helping her get started in tennis. She also played soccer for a while when she was younger, but in the end preferred the solitude of the tennis court.
“I actually kind of like being by myself on the court,” LaLone said, “because if I make a mistake it’s my fault.”
LaLone hasn’t made too many mistakes, which is evident by an opportunity to continue her career as a Bronco. Abrams said playing college tennis has always been a goal for LaLone, who plans on studying kinesiology and eventually breaking into physical therapy while at Boise State.
While at the campus, LaLone instantly connected with the girls on the team. She was also really impressed with the coaches and academic advisors, who all got her really excited about the opportunity to play tennis at the next level.
“I’m so excited, I can’t wait for next year,” LaLone said. “I want to go right now!”
But before she heads to Boise, LaLone has a little unfinished business to take care of. Namely, her fourth and final chance at a state championship. LaLone is just looking forward to getting back to the tournament — in Richland this year — and seeing some familiar faces.
“I really am excited,” LaLone said. “There’s going to be some really good players there and it’s just fun to be with everyone.”
What will happen once she gets there is anyone’s guess, but at least a couple people think she’ll make a run deep into the state tournament.
“My expectation is she’ll be in the final,” Noni LaLone said.
Said Abrams: “It just depends on how much the other girls have competed this year. … I think she’s on track to do well at state.”
4A Northwest District Championships
When: Today and Wednesday, 1 p.m.
Where: Jackson H.S.
Matchups: Singles—Megan LaLone (St) vs. Angela Moniaga (M), Kelsey Ghirardo (A) vs. Myint-Zu Kyaw (EW), Sarah Tuemmler (MP) vs. Kelli Corbett (J), Audrey Zahina (Sno) vs. Sally Park (K); Doubles—Gabby Wilson-Julia Young (Sno) vs. Lilly Jacobsen-Maddie Haugen (J), Megan Huffman-Erin Huffman (LS) vs. Annie Yang-Zoe Jovanovich (K), Heather Smith-Christine Wolf (St) vs. Hanna Rehnfeldt-Mikala Valdez (EW), RaeAnn Bobadilla-Alicia Brown (MP) vs. Alyssa Gilbert-Jenna Gilbert (K).
3A Northwest District Championships
When: Today and Wednesday, noon
Where: Glacier Peak H.S.
Matchups: Singles—Kimball Gordon (E) vs. Kilee Beuse (Sedro), Jenny Sui (SC) vs. Nadean Al-Ali (GP), Mattie Carlson (F) vs. Monica Kwong (L), Cristina Borsan (L) vs. Meera Limaye (SC); Doubles—Haley Monson-Janie Uppinghouse (SC) vs. Emily Mattson-Kailyn Morse (MV), Arianna Garcia-Hannah Ham (L) vs. Francesca O’Malley-Daniella Brenglemann (SW), Jackie Wilson-Kaylin Schmidt (MV) vs. Keegan Monson-Lauren Rutter (SC), Tierney Bagley-Adrienne Muramoto (E) vs. Gillian Braden-Armstrong-Nicole Bouche (MT).