When it comes to this time of year the biggest decision isn’t to charge the net or stay back on the baseline.
No, the biggest question facing local tennis players is to play singles or go doubles.
Because there are just two singles spots heading to state from District 1 — a third spot
is available for 4A players but they must win a play-in match against a KingCo opponent — many of the best singles players weigh their chances of making the final compared to pairing with another strong singles player to make a charge in the doubles competition.
“After the last match of the
season I always sit down our players and ask them, ‘Singles or doubles?’ ” said Edmonds-Woodway coach Dan Crist. “I leave it up to them. And if they want to go doubles I ask them who they’d liked to go with.”
For information on today’s district tournaments, scroll to the bottom of this article. Also for updates from Tuesday’s tournament play, follow sports editor Aaron Swaney on Twitter
One of Crist’s players is a good example of this tug-of-war. Younghan Kim played No. 1 singles for most of the season and did well, finishing 12-4. But Kim, who paired up with his brother Youngha Kim last season and went to state, decided he had a better chance to go back to the state tournament with a partner. Kim is teamed up with Dylan Merrill, who played doubles with Eric Bryant for most of the season. Kim and Merrill face Stanwood’s Riley Swenson and Frank Medlicott in today’s 4A District 1 tournament, which begins at 1 p.m. at Stanwood High School.
“(Younghan) went back and forth and the reality is there is very strong competition in singles and he ended up feeling his best chance to make it back to state was playing doubles,” Crist said.
That competition in singles play includes favorites Mitch Williamson, of Jackson, and Gergo Muller, of Stanwood. Both players are seeded No. 1 in the South and North, respectively, and are seemingly on a collision course for a rematch of their Sept. 28 duel.
Kim and Merrill’s opponent today is a good example of the opposite type of doubles team that heads to district: the team that has played all season together. Swenson and Medlicott, who played No. 1 doubles for most of the season, going 6-2, have more history with each other but what kind of advantage does that give them?
Jackson coach David Hutt said he thinks it’s neglible, unless a comparable partner can’t be found. “The singles players that go play doubles are very good players,” said Hutt. “But you’ve got to pair them with someone they feel comfortable with. If you don’t it can be really ugly.”
Hutt said he makes sure his singles players play doubles during practices throughout the season, keeping their overall game — especially their net game — sharp. And Hutt practices what he preaches, breaking apart his season-long doubles team of James Okubo and David Hong to match them with singles players Peter Cung and Ben Mietzner, respectively. Hutt’s motivation for doing it was the fact Cung and Okubo won the district title as a doubles team last season.
“I wanted to give them another opportunity to do it again,” Hutt said.
In the 3A district tournament, Meadowdale’s No. 1 doubles team of Andrew Fijalka and Evan Devries will face a Shorewood team made up of singles player Trevor Cronin and doubles player Isaac Brengelmann.
“I think it can be an advantage because of their match experience together,” said Mavs head coach Mark Schneider. “But they know they’ll need to stay focused and play their game all week. The other doubles teams are going to be ready and we need to be prepared, regardless of their experience together.”4A District 1 tournament
When: Today, 1 p.m.; Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Where: Stanwood High School
First round: Singles—Gergo Muller (Stan) vs. Grant Follis (Jac); Howard Chen (Mon) vs. Patrick Chung (Cas); Corey Coombs (MP) vs. Brandon Bulaclac (EW); Andrew Ivelia (Sno) vs. Mitch Williamson (Jac). Doubles—Mitch Scott-Zach Martinson (Sno) vs. Ben Mietzner-David Hong (Jac); Riley Swenson-Frank Medlicott (Stan) vs. Younghan Kim-Dylan Merrill (EW); Eric Saekow-Jonathan Wolf (Stan) vs. Peter Cung-James Okubo (Jac); Trent Sarver-Tyler Bradford (Arl) vs. Andrew Lee-Dominic Lee (Kam).
State berths: No. 1 and 2 singles and doubles earn automatic berths; No. 3 singles and doubles advance to play-in game against Kingco No. 3 on Saturday.
3A District 1 tournament
When: Today, noon; Wednesday, noon
Where: Mount Vernon High School
First round: Singles—Brian Nguyen (Mead) vs. Juan Ramirez (SC); Jeffrey Levine (MV) vs. Justin Oh (Swd); Anthony Shanander (MV) vs. Dylan Mozlowski (GP); Nick Ekern (Mead) vs. Brandon Soelling (Eve). Doubles—Stuart Milner-John Kim vs. Hunter Nelson-Miles Jamieson (Swd); Calvin Rutherford-Connor Garrison (SW) vs. Patrick Luangrath-Jordan Hill (GP); Nishaant Limaye-Chris Sato (SC) vs. Tanner Hansen-Erik Arntsen (F); Trevor Cronin-Isaac Brengelmann (Swd) vs. Evan Devries-Andrew Fijalka (Mead).
State berths: No. 1 singles and doubles earn automatic berths; No. 2 and 3 singles and doubles play for the final berth regardless of whether or not they have met previously.