Jackson sophomore Ben Lee cruised to the Class 4A District 1 singles title as part of a dominant showing by the Timberwolves’ star trio. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Jackson sophomore Ben Lee cruised to the Class 4A District 1 singles title as part of a dominant showing by the Timberwolves’ star trio. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Jackson’s star trio dominates 4A boys district tennis tourney

Ben Lee cruises to the singles title, while Henry Park and David Song roll to the doubles crown.

During coach David Hutt’s two and a half decades at the helm, a lot of talented players have come through the Jackson High School boys tennis program.

But this might be the best trio he’s ever had.

And at this week’s Class 4A District 1 Tournament, the Timberwolves’ three stars put their elite skill on full display.

Sophomore phenom Ben Lee cruised to the singles title Tuesday at Glacier Peak High School. Junior standout Henry Park and talented freshman David Song capped a dominant run to the doubles crown Thursday at Columbia Athletic Club in Everett.

Along the way, the trio combined for six straight-set victories and won a combined 72 of 74 games. And Jackson rolled to the district team title.

“We’ve been spoiled here and usually have one or two really, really good players all the time,” Hutt said. “To have three is really special.

“Three guys this good — I don’t know if I’ve ever had (that).”

The Timberwolves already had two elite players last season in Park and Lee, who combined to win the 4A state team title for Jackson this past spring. Park took second place in the 4A state singles tournament and Lee placed fifth, giving the Timberwolves enough points to finish atop the state team standings.

Song then entered the mix this fall, joining Park and Lee to form a Jackson trio that’s been untouchable.

Lee, Park and Song are a combined 45-0 in singles and doubles matches this season, with 44 of those 45 victories coming in straight sets. They’ve won all 30 of their singles matches in straight sets and 14 of their 15 doubles matches in straight sets.

By winning their respective district titles, Lee and the Park-Song pair both qualified for the 4A state tournament next May.

“I call them the three-headed monsters,” Hutt said. “They just play high-level tennis. They kind of overwhelm their opponents with the crispness (and) firmness of their ground strokes, the firmness of their volleys, and then they have the ability to drop a soft shot on you too. … They’re just amazing.”

Jackson freshman David Song (right) and junior Henry Park rolled to the district doubles title. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Jackson freshman David Song (right) and junior Henry Park rolled to the district doubles title. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lee claimed the district singles title with a pair of 6-0, 6-0 victories in his first two matches and a 6-0, 6-1 triumph over senior teammate Austen Lim in the championship match. It was the second consecutive district crown for Lee, who beat Park in last year’s district final.

At state this past spring, Lee had the misfortune of facing eventual state champion and current Air Force Academy player Phillip Deaton in the first round. But Lee bounced right back in the consolation bracket, responding with three consecutive straight-set victories to earn a fifth-place state finish.

“He’s just tremendously athletic,” Hutt said. “He has that agility and movement and really gets after it. (And) he just has tremendous power. I mean, he hits the ball so hard that, at times, even Henry and David have trouble controlling it.

“He came in as a freshman (and) did extremely well. And this year, he might be one of the best players in the state again. … We’ll see if he can maybe win a state title.”

In the district doubles tournament, Park and Song were just as dominant. They cruised to a pair of 6-0, 6-0 victories in their first two matches, followed by a 6-0, 6-1 win over Kamiak junior Zion An and senior Anthony Madson in the final.

“Henry grinds things out and really methodically thinks about how to win the match and the process of doing it,” Hutt said. “And so that’s a huge strength for him. … And he’s extremely consistent.

“David is kind of similar,” Hutt added. “You can see the mind going and see him thinking. … And he has a really big serve.”

Park, who placed second in the 4A state singles tournament this past spring, moved to doubles for this postseason. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Park, who placed second in the 4A state singles tournament this past spring, moved to doubles for this postseason. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

At last spring’s 4A state tournament, Park advanced to the singles final with three straight-set victories. But as a result of this year’s expected state allocations, he moved to doubles for this postseason.

According to Hutt, the district will likely only receive one state berth apiece for singles and doubles. That created a tough decision for Hutt, as it essentially meant only one of his top three players could play singles, while the other two would team up for doubles.

“It is hard,” said Hutt, who had his top players practice and compete in both singles and doubles this fall to prepare them for various postseason scenarios. “I always try to say, ‘Let the season unfold.’ And when the season is over, we’ll talk about all the different options.”

For the Timberwolves, it wasn’t just their elite trio that stood out at district.

Lim, who entered the district singles tournament as the No. 6 seed, made a run to the district final. The Jackson senior defeated third-seeded Lake Stevens senior Everett DeLeon 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals and beat second-seeded Glacier Peak junior Drew Jansen 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals before falling to Lee in the championship match.

Lim is slated to face DeLeon again Friday in the district second/third-place match.

“It was really cool to see Austen get through (to the final),” Hutt said. “Those are great (wins) for a senior that has really worked hard. … Those are great moments.”

Lim said he’s learned a lot from his talented teammates.

“Having guys like Henry, Ben and David, it’s great because you get to learn every single day from them and you get to see all of the dedication and hard work that they put into their craft,” Lim said. “So it’s an amazing thing to see, and you learn a lot from it.”

Lee (right) and senior teammate Austen Lim congratulate each other after the district singles final. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Lee (right) and senior teammate Austen Lim congratulate each other after the district singles final. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

With so much talent in the program, it’s no surprise that Jackson’s practices are quite competitive.

“We’re yelling, screaming, running for every ball, diving,” Lee said. “It’s crazy. It’s a battle. It’s mental too, because we’re all trying to push each other over the limits. … It definitely benefits the team.”

And as Hutt put it, his players “just like to play.”

Jackson had several team barbeques on Fridays this fall. Afterward, the players spent hours hitting under the lights at the high school.

“They’ll be out there till 10 o’clock at night,” Hutt said. “And we’ll have as high as 25 kids out there. It’s pretty cool.

“They’ll just hit forever,” he added. “They’ll stay and hit until I kick them off the court.”

After their district dominance, it’s now a long seven-month wait for the state tournament.

But the Timberwolves are already eyeing a repeat state title.

“Last year, we weren’t really expecting it,” Park said. “Ben and I were hoping that we’d do well, but we didn’t think that we’d actually win the state title. So when we got it, it was a shock.

“This year,” he added, “everyone (at school) is coming up to us like, ‘You all are gonna win the state title, right?’ So there’s kind of an expectation throughout the school that we’re gonna do well. So hopefully we won’t let them down.”

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