Colville tennis team closes in on NEA championship

Indians pick up wins over Chewelah, FreemanNortheast A League league-leader Colville High picked up a pair of important girl’s tennis wins last week over Freeman and Chewelah.Colville downed Chewelah 3-2 back on April 17 and swept Freeman 5-0 last Friday.THIS WEEKColville traveled to Riverside on Monday, while the junior varsity was home against Central Valley.On Wednesday, the CHS junior varsity will be at Chewelah against the host Cougars and Lakeside.On Friday and Saturday, the CHS varsity will be at the Inland Empire Tournament in Spokane.RECAPColville’s top two singles players, Liselotte Doggen and Erin Little, picked up forfeit wins over Chewelah’s Naomi Miller and Kayleigh Hansen. Instead, the Cougars brought their boy’s doubles’ team for an exhibition against Little and Doggen. While the Chewelah boys won, the match was certainly competitive.“When we traveled to Chewelah earlier this season, the coaches got together and set up an exhibition match with a boy’s doubles’ team (against Doggen and Little),” CHS head coach Phil Johnson explained. “It was a very competitive match, so I asked coach Smith (Denise) to bring the boys up to Colville if they wanted to do it again.”Tough competition all aroundCoach Smith recognized that her singles players were weak, so she forfeited her top two singles spots to Doggen and Little so they could play Chewelah’s boys again in a full two out of three exhibition match.“It was another great match, filled with exciting rallies and some powerful net play,” Johnson said. Chewelah’s top two singles players matched up against a couple of CHS junior varsity players.The only official singles match was Tessa Moore’s 6-1, 6-0 win over Chewelah’s Tenika Smith.In doubles, Colville’s no. 1 (Carly Ekins/Alyssa Kinebaum) lost to Becky Kenney and Bethany Kofmehl, 1-6, 1-6. Ditto for the no. 2 doubles match-up. Colville’s Mariah O’Brien and Alison Barbour dropped a tough 6-7 (7-9) 2-6 verdict to Chewelah’s Ryann Richmond and Kelley Riese.In the number one doubles match, Chewelah was able to dominate the net.“We struggled to maintain consistent ground strokes and couldn’t really keep the ball away from Chewelah’s net player,” Johnson said. “Chewelah rarely gave us a second chance when we gave them easy balls at the net.”In the no. 2 doubles match, O’Brien and Barbour rallied against Chewelah’s formidable duo.“It was clear from the start that this one would be close,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, a few too many mistakes led the Chewelah pair to victory in the first set.”The second set was all about momentum and Chewelah certainly had it after a tough first set win.Colville scrambles to find matches for a big JV teamLast Wednesday, Colville’s junior varsity matched up against West Valley’s JV squad.“It was a great match-up where all our junior varsity players participated,” noted Johnson, who has a big squad of about 40 players this spring. “We set up extra matches with schools like West Valley and Central Valley because of our big numbers. The next biggest team in our league has only 19 players.”In the easy win over Freeman, Johnson and assistant coach Sue Fisk opted to do a little line-up shuffling to prepare for the post-season.Like last season, when Doggen and Little medaled at State and were one of the top doubles teams at the Class 1A level, the seniors will go that route again in the post-season. “We thought that giving Liselotte and Erin as much practice as possible playing doubles would be beneficial,” Johnson said. Slotting them as Colville’s top doubles team moved Moore to the top singles spot.“That move also allows all three players the opportunity to earn a seeded position at the District tournament,” Johnson explained. “The gamble in doing this is that I could count on a win from Doggen and Little, but two singles or the second doubles team, and at least one singles player would have to battle for a win to get the team victory.”Johnson said he also wanted to give sophomore Cassidy Lindback and freshman Taylor Little a chance to compete in singles at the varsity level to gain experience.The plan works“Luckily, everything worked out even better than I expected,” Johnson conceded.In number one singles against Freeman, Moore downed Andie Olson, 7-5, 6-2 and Lindback beat Morgan Deruyter, 6-4, 6-1 in number two singles. In the third singles match, Little got her first varsity win, a tough 7-6(8-6), 7-6(7-5) win over Freeman’s Lindsey Nordby.In the top doubles match-up, Little and Doggen had no trouble downing Freeman’s Kailyn Gady/Kristen Talbott, 6-1, 6-0. Ekins and Kinebaum beat Carissa Perry and Mindy Hansen, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.Moore, down 0-3 in the first set, found her rhythm and some consistent ground- strokes. “Tessa was able to start moving her opponent around the court and after a close first set, she carried the momentum into the second set and controlled most of the points,” Johnson said. Johnson said that the Freeman match-up, along with a match against Riverside’s top singles player Monday, might be enough to get Moore a top four seed to the District 7 1A Tournament.Johnson was very pleased with Lindback’s continued improvement and a big win against Freeman.“I was excited to see how she would do,” Johnson said. “She covered the court well and had solid forehands and backhands. The combination of her solid serves and some new strategy paid dividends.”Little faced an opponent who did a good job of moving her all over the court. Little battled back with some tough serving and was able to move to the net to take lobs.“But she also made quite a few mistakes at the net,” Johnson conceded. “She was able to get her first serves in (tie-breakers) and put the pressure on Nordby.“This match experience was fantastic for our frosh.”Little and Doggen dominated and Kienbaum and Ekins played their best match of the season to date in the number two doubles match-up.