KENNEWICK — The only player to defeat Jackson High School standouts Henry Park and Ben Lee at the Class 4A boys tennis state singles tournament this weekend was eventual champion Phillip Deaton.
But Deaton himself wasn’t enough to keep Park and Lee from bringing home a state championship for the Timberwolves.
Jackson’s one-two singles punch earned a pair of top-five finishes and combined to give the Timberwolves the 4A boys state team title Saturday at The Pacific Clinic and Kamiakin High School.
Park, a sophomore, took second place in the 4A boys singles tournament. Lee, a freshman, fought through the consolation bracket to place fifth.
The two underclassmen combined to put Jackson atop the team standings at 17 points — two points ahead of second-place Kentridge.
“It was a great accomplishment,” Timberwolves coach David Hutt said. “As a freshman and sophomore, (with) the hard work they put in, to see them come out of it with a first-place state championship is pretty amazing. … It’s something they’re never gonna forget.”
Park and Lee each won three of their four state tournament matches in straight sets. Their only losses were to Deaton, an ultra-talented Bellarmine Prep senior and Air Force Academy commit.
It’s the second state team title for Jackson boys tennis, which also won the 4A state crown in 2011. The Timberwolves came close in 2019, when they placed second in the 4A team standings and finished just two points behind state champion Newport.
“It was a very great experience,” Lee said. “… It’s really exciting to win the title and bring home the trophy for Jackson.”
Park advanced to the championship match with a 6-2, 6-1 first-round win over Olympia’s Gabe Ong, a 6-1, 6-0 quarterfinal victory over Hanford’s Adam Tan and a 7-5, 6-3 semifinal triumph over Issaquah’s Luke Sarausad. Park then fell 6-0, 6-0 to Deaton in the final.
“I’m just proud of how focused he was right from the start,” Hutt said. “He has a game plan when he goes in to it. He really sticks with it. He’ll make small adjustments and he just really stays in the moment, which is really cool for a young player.
“And (then) he ran into Phillip Deaton, which is tough. That kid is incredible.”
During his run to a second-place finish, Park said one factor that helped him was his improved strength. Starting in January, he began lifting weights and training before school with the Jackson football team.
“I can actually feel that that helped me physically in this tournament,” Park said. “I didn’t really falter, and my energy level (remained) throughout the tournament.”
Lee had the misfortune of facing Deaton in the first round, where he fell to the eventual state champion 6-2, 6-1. But despite the final score, Hutt said Lee played Deaton tough.
And after the opening-round loss, Lee rebounded with three consecutive straight-set victories in the consolation bracket — including a 6-3, 6-0 win over Camas’ Aiden Brasier in the fifth/eighth-place match.
“I’m proud of Ben (for) how he dealt with it,” Hutt said of the tough first-round draw. “Some kids can quit on themselves right from the start, thinking, ‘I got really screwed here.’ … So to get through that and play hard and then get ready for the rest of the day, it was really good to see him do that.”
This past fall, Park was Jackson’s No. 1 singles player. But in the 4A District 1 singles championship match, Lee defeated Park for the district crown.
Park said losing to his friend and teammate motivated him leading up to state.
“He’s definitely pushed me to be a better player,” Park said. “He beat me in districts, and (even though) he’s my friend and everything, that did hurt a little bit. So I used that as motivation.”
Hutt said it was rewarding to see both of his standouts’ hard work pay off.
“They worked really hard,” Hutt said. “And (you hope) things fall in line for kids that work hard and do what they’re supposed to.”
OTHER LOCAL PLACERS
Edmonds-Woodway freshman Steven Anderson took fifth place in the 3A boys singles tournament. Anderson lost in the round of 16, but rebounded with three consecutive victories in the consolation bracket, including a 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 win over Mercer Island’s Hanri Luo in the fifth/eighth-place match.
Kamiak’s Aaron Lee and Josh Lee placed seventh in 4A boys doubles. The unrelated seniors rebounded from a quarterfinal loss by splitting a pair of consolation matches.
Shorewood’s Ethan Farley and Blake Gettmann took eighth in 3A boys doubles. After a round-of-16 loss, they bounced back with a pair of victories in the consolation bracket to clinch a top-eight finish.
Shorewood freshman Rylie Gettmann placed eighth in 3A girls singles. She rebounded from a round-of-16 defeat with a pair of consolation victories to secure a top-eight finish.