Spartans win a flurry of three makeup matches

April 26, 2011

By Christopher Huber

Alyson Opitz, Skyline junior, returns the ball near the net during the No. 1 doubles match against Bothell April 21. Opitz and partner Molly Knutson won the match 6-0, 6-2. By Christopher Huber

There’s nothing in springtime sports quite like three straight dry days.

And for the Skyline High School girls tennis team, three days without rain meant three matches in a row to make up for a plethora of postponements.

Although the Spartans are in a rebuilding year, the squad showed some promise by winning its third match in as many days April 21 in Sammamish.

After beating Redmond April 19 and Eastlake April 20, it blanked Bothell, 7-0, to improve to 5-2.

“It wasn’t the hardest match, but it was a lot of fun,” said senior No. 1 doubles player Molly Knutson after the match. “It was an enjoyable match.”

Knutson and doubles partner Alyson Opitz beat Bothell’s Colleen Byrne and Morgan Milner in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2.

Kristin Park, in Skyline’s No. 1 singles spot, beat Rebeka You, 6-0, 6-1.

The key for Skyline was to adapt to Bothell’s lob-style play, according to Spartan players and coach Bettina Gehle. Instead of zinging targeted shots at Skyline opponents, Bothell players, in nearly every match, slowed down the pace with high, lobbed shots.

“They were all prepared for it,” Gehle said. “That was the most important thing.”

While Spartans like Knutson and Opitz were eager to play at a more lively pace, they’ll take the win.

“It was a baseline game for sure,” Knutson said. “I hate playing against lobs.”

Knutson and Opitz took control from the beginning. In the first set, the girls went up 3-0 and easily won 6-0. Byrne and Milner gave the Skyline pair trouble partway through the second set, forcing shots into the net and bringing the score to 5-2. Knutson and Opitz settled back down to take the set, 6-2.

“Hopefully we’re on a good winning streak,” Knutson said. “We’re on a roll.”

Opitz noted that simple mistakes, like underhitting a volley into the net, happen less when they face a stronger team like Newport or Garfield.

“We always play a lot better against better teams,” Opitz said.

Helping Skyline round out its shutout, Laura Parsons beat Aria Samora, 6-1, 6-3, in the No. 2 singles match.

“She’s a really good fighter,” Gehle said during the match.

Jinny Choi defeated Bothell’s Linda Vinitnantharat, 6-0, 6-1, and Kianna Bertolino beat Erica Takano, 6-0, 6-2. In addition to Knutson and Opitz’s win in the No. 1 doubles match, Sonja Ye and Kasumi Maeda beat Alina Espinoza and Tammy Tarhini, 6-3, 6-3. Skyline’s Sonjana Galgalikas and Rachel Kim ended the match on a winning note for the Spartans when they beat Gracen Rubo and Sadie Rath, 6-1, 7-5.

Just as the players look toward the KingCo and district competition, they and Gehle seem happy with where the team is.

“It’s awesome. I think we are getting more confidence,” Gehle said.

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