When Edmonds-Woodway High School tennis players Alec Matulka and Drew Boland rallied from a set down to win their No. 1 doubles match against Shorewood on Sept. 27, it wasn’t clear their match would be the deciding factor in determining the Wesco 3A South championship.
All the first-year partners knew was that they had given their team a 3-2 lead in a battle between unbeaten squads, with a pair of doubles matches still to play.
Once E-W’s 4-3 victory became official, the significance of the win by Matulka and Boland was clear.
“Really, what it came down to I feel like was No. 1 doubles,” said senior Will Molinaro, the Warriors’ No. 1 singles player. “… I was watching the whole match, and it was just an unbelievable match.”
After dropping the first set 6-3, Matulka and Boland dominated the second, 6-1.
“They totally shut down (Shorewood’s) momentum and turned it around for us,” Warriors tennis coach Dan Crist said of the second set.
After taking a lead early in the third set, a little drama unfolded as both doubles teams fought for the all-important team point.
“We were up 5-3, so it really looked like that momentum had carried through,” Crist said. “Then all the sudden they come back and win two games. That’s huge. The tough part is getting to 5-5. Once you get there, then you’re right back in it.”
Matulka and Boland eventually finished off the Thunderbirds’ No. 1 doubles pairing 7-5 in the third set, and the final two matches ended in a split, giving the Warriors the 4-3 victory.
The No. 1 doubles match was the only one of the seven that went the full three sets.
“We know that any of our matches can decide it,” Matulka said. “But it’s a great feeling to know that you really helped the team get the win.”
And it was even sweeter for the senior-laden squad to do it against a team that had knocked off Edmonds-Woodway in each of their past eight meetings since the Warriors’ dropped to Class 3A prior to the 2014-2015 school year.
“It felt good winning,” Boland said, “especially against Shorewood.”
Added Matulka: “They’re a really good team. It’s always great when you get to play against a really good team when it’s a close match. It was just really great to just win for the team, and to know that we won the league was a great feeling.”
The victory helped the Warriors reach their goal of capturing the conference title. They became the first non-Shoreline District school to win the championship since the Wesco 3A split into North and South Divisions prior to 2012 season.
A big factor in helping the team reach the top of the conference was the addition of Molinaro, a transfer student in his first year with the program.
“We had a decent team coming in to the start of the year,” Crist said. “… Anytime you add a guy at the top, you become a whole lot better.”
After reaching its initial goal in the title-clinching bout with Shorewood, the Warriors decided it was time to set a new goal to hit before the postseason rolls around.
“The first goal was to win the conference, and we accomplished that,” Crist said. “Now I think the second goal is they would like to finish undefeated.”