Skyline tennis player Theresa Huang bests Eastlake rival at KingCo

May 22, 2012

By Lillian O'Rorke

Theresa Huang, Skyline High School freshman, volleys against an opponent May 16 during the KingCo 4A tennis championship in Kirkland. By Lillian Tucker

Skyline and Eastlake high schools squared off at the KingCo tennis championships when two of their youngest and best players, Theresa Huang and Katie Park, respectively, faced each other in the girls singles semifinals.

This was the first year both girls got the chance to play varsity high school tennis and both were quickly bumped up to play in the singles No. 1 spot. Their relative youth was not evident May 16 at Kirkland’s Outreach and Performance Tennis Center, where the two rallied for a shot at the KingCo title. In the end, Huang won the match for the Skyline Spartans and advanced to the championship match. She beat Park, 6-0, 6-0.

Huang went on to take second place in the district after losing 6-2, 6-2 to Inglemoor High School’s Sabrina Demerath. She now advances to the state tournament.

“A freshman in the finals is a great accomplishment for her,” Skyline coach Bettina Gehle said.

Huang put in a lot of effort all season and beyond, and she is already aiming to eventually play on a college team, Gehle said adding that one of Huang’s great strengths is her focus.

“Especially when you are young, to focus a long time is difficult.”

“She deserves credit for putting so much time in,” Park said after the match. “I’m a little disappointed. I felt that it could have gone either way but she played better than me today so she deserves it.”

Many of the matches’ games came down to deuces, where the two were tied 40-40, but Huang always managed to pull out the win. The Spartan spent most of the match on the offensive, playing a strategy that kept Park moving. The fact that Park was constantly having to adjust to return Huang’s shots didn’t leave the Eastlake Wolf much opportunity to make her own strategic hits.

“I just try to stay patient and have controlled aggression — not go for too much but go for the right shots at the right opportunities,” Huang said. “I’ve been working on it (her topspin) a lot recently to create short balls for my opponents.”

Huang continued to put a topspin on the ball and clinched the win. As the match wore down, Huang had already won the first set 6-0 and, with a 5-0 game lead, was working on finishing the second set. But Park hung on until the very end and rallied with Huang up until the final shot went beyond her reach.

“I never give up when I play,” Park said after the match. “Mentally, I try to keep it pretty strong.”

Lillian Tucker: 392-6434, ext. 242, or ltucker@sammamishreview.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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