Skyline outlasts Eastlake tennis in mental battle

April 27, 2010

By Christopher Huber

Coaches Bettina Gehle and Bud Peterson were both a bit nervous April 22 as the Skyline and Eastlake high school girls KingCo Conference tennis match came down to the No. 1 doubles competition.

The other six matches had finished by about 5:30 p.m. and the contest, at the Skyline tennis courts, was tied at three each.

Skyline doubles pair Molly Knutson and Alyson Opitz faced Eastlake’s Sara Marien and Tasnim Klessih. Knutson and Opitz had come back from a 6-0 first-set loss to win a tiebreaker in the second, and it came down to a drawn-out third set to determine the winner.

“The team who had better fight will win,” said Gehle as she watched the final match. “It’s all about the mental.”

Kelly Boudwin, Skyline High School’s No. 2 singles player, returns a volley in the first set against Eastlake’s Olivia Salak. By Christopher Huber

Knutson and Opitz took the third set 6-4. Skyline pulled it off and upset Eastlake 4-3 for the first time in four years, according to Gehle.

“We need to be tougher in the third set and I think that was really applied against Eastlake,” she said.

The cross-town match happened on a rare dry, sunny day. It was a welcome change for both teams, as they each have at least three postponed matches to make up before the KingCo tournament in early May.

Also highlighting the day was the No. 1 singles competition between Eastlake’s Chelsa Tsuji and Skyline’s Alisa VanGrunsven. Tsuji, who won KingCo 4A doubles with Melanie Wang in 2009, controlled the tempo much of the match. She beat VanGrunsven, a close friend, 6-3, 6-4, and improved to 4-1 on the season.

“It’s a good year for her,” Peterson said during the match.

VanGrunsven took the first game to open the first set and made Tsuji work the entire court. But Tsuji remained composed, focusing on executing the right shots. Tsuji said she did rely a bit on some short shots into the net from VanGrunsven, but overall it was a tough match.

“I really just needed to keep a level head,” Tsuji said after the match. “She’s gotten so much better. She’s got that drop shot down.”

Gehle said the match could have easily gone Eastlake’s way. Skyline No. 2 singles player Kelly Boudwin won her match against Eastlake’s Olivia Salak, tying the match score at 3-3. Salak took the first set 7-5, but Boudwin dug deep to win both the second and third sets 6-2.

In No. 3 singles action, Eastlake’s Hannah Salak beat Kristin Park 7-5, 6-0. Kelly Song, of Eastlake, won her No. 4 singles match against Skyline’s Laura Parson 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Skyline’s No. 2 and 3 doubles pairs rounded out the winning tally for the home team. Nicole Nagao and Emilie Lehman defeated Eastlake’s Nina Kondza and Beth Rheinberge 6-3, 6-1. Jasmine Munoz and Kimberly Matsudaria beat Lanie Graettinger and Brenna Drummond 6-3, 6-2.

Spartans blank Liberty

Skyline swept by Liberty 7-0 April 19 in a KingCo match. VanGrunsven won the No. 1 singles match by defeating Amber Eaatham 6-3, 6-3.

Knutson and Opitz downed Veronica Granger and Kristy Braunston, of Liberty, 7-5, 6-1 to capture the No. 1 doubles.

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or Comment at

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