With three returning players that won 3A district championships and went on to compete at state last year, one might think Mountlake Terrace High School girls tennis coach Alberto Ramirez would be confident going into the 2015 season. But while the long-time coach’s smile is bright and attitude is positive, he is still expressing some concern.
Ramirez is welcoming back junior Tina Liu and seniors Lorraine Allison and Nicki Bouche to this year’s Hawk squad; all three are coming off strong outings in 2014. Liu and Allison teamed up to win the 3A District 1 doubles title and finished sixth at the 3A State Tennis Championships last spring; Bouche earned the 3A District 1 singles’ title and participated in two matches at the state championships.
Ramirez will likely have all three in singles’ matches during the regular season this year against Wesco 3A competition that is traditionally strong. “I think they will get good challenges, but they are very competitive and I am expecting them to rise to the occasion,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez noted that Bouche, Allison and Liu will have to go up against a number of strong singles players throughout the Wesco 3A South this year. While Bouche may be the early season favorite to win the league singles’ title, she will likely face strong opposition from Glacier Peak’s Madeline Mahler, who earned an all-Wesco selection last year as a freshman, and Edmonds-Woodway’s Myint-Zu Kyan and Hanna Rehnfeldt, who teamed up last year to grab a podium finish at the state championships as a doubles team.
Another concern of Ramirez this season is building up a strong supporting cast to back-up his three stars. “I just wish we had more experienced players to help them out,” he said.
In many of last year’s matches, Bouche, Allison and Liu came through with singles victories; since a team competition consists of four singles matches and three doubles matches, it takes at least four wins of those seven clashes to secure a team victory. “I think that we lost nine matches last year 3-to-4,” Ramirez lamented.
“Some of the returning players from last year will have to step up and to make sure we get that fourth win that we need to win the (team) contest,” he said.
While Ramirez frets about finding the right combinations to be competitive in the No. 4 singles’ match and the three doubles matches at varsity team matches, he does see a big positive for the long-range prospects of Hawk tennis. “We have the largest freshman class ever,” he noted, with enough to not only field a full varsity team but a junior varsity squad this season, something that was missing last year.
“Most of them are inexperienced, but we have three or four more years to work with them and get them up to speed,” he added.
One thing Ramirez is not worried about this season is conflict within his squad. “It’s a great group of girls and they all seem eager to learn,” he said. “They cooperate with us coaches a lot. I’ve never seen a group get along so well as this group. Normally there is some friction among some players – with these girls I haven’t seen any of that. It’s very important for the chemistry of the team.”
The Hawks will be tested the first week of the 2015 season with three matches in four days beginning on Monday, Mar. 16; two of those first three matches will be against big 4A Kingco schools. Terrace’s Wesco League schedule begins on Mar. 25 with a trip to Edmonds-Woodway to face the Warriors.
To view the entire MTHS 2015 girls tennis schedule, click http://www.wescoathletics.com/index.php?league=3&page_name=game_schedule&school=40&sport=18.
– By Doug Petrowski