Liberty nets season’s first conference win
September 17, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
In the first set of Marek Pierepiekarz’s Sept. 12 match against Juanita’s Branden Nokes, the Liberty High School sophomore was in complete control.
As the sun beat down and the sweat began to bead across his forehead, Pierepiekarz twirled his tennis racket with ease between serves while making quick work of Nokes on the way to a 6-0 first-set victory at the Tibbetts Park Tennis Courts.
“The first set was pretty easy just because I could play my A game,” Pierepiekarz said.
The Liberty sophomore played close to the net, he said, taking advantage of his aggressiveness and speed.
The second set was a different story, however, as Nokes made adjustments, forcing Pierepiekarz out of his comfort zone.
“Their coach coaches their players very intelligently,” Liberty tennis coach Mike Salokas said. “The strategy of bringing him in, and then once he came in, lobbing it over Marek’s head and making him run backwards, actually did work to their benefit.”
Pierepiekarz fell behind quickly in the second set as fatigue began to set in, he said. The sophomore, Liberty’s No. 1 singles player, was able to battle his way back, though, eventually capturing the match-winning set, including a tiebreaker, 7-6 (8-6).
“I had to play a lot less aggressively,” Pierepiekarz said of his second-set adjustments. “I had to make sure that my opponent started hitting more of the unforced errors instead of me. I had to play off of that, I had to slow myself down a bit.”
As a team, Liberty defeated Juanita, 5-2, for its first conference win of the year.
In the other singles matches, Liberty’s Justice Canley bested Corey O’Neill, 6-3, 6-2; Matthew Cao fell to Juanita’s Holden McGovern, 4-6, 6-2, 6-7 (2-7); and the Patriots’ Tim Bombeli beat Brian Chung, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
In doubles, Zach Richter and Matthew Griffith defeated Liberty’s No. 1 duo, Tyler Le and Aaron Burk, 4-6, 6-4, 1-6; the Liberty team of Cody Hughes and Ethan Le beat Spencer Nokes and Will Ludvigsen, 6-1, 6-3; and Keaten Winegar and Naoki Lucas beat Juanita’s team of Emerson Berosile and Zach Taylor, 6-2, 6-3.
A renewed energy is flowing through the Liberty tennis program, after the Patriots found success at the state level last year when the doubles team of Jenny Adams and Kristy Braunston finished second in the doubles tournament.
“I told the boys, we had two girls who made it to state and there’s no reason why the rest of Liberty High School tennis can’t get there as well,” Salokas said.
Salokas said this year’s team represents the highest turnout of boys he’s ever had during his time at Liberty.
The program’s momentum is certainly trending upward, he said, though it would be nice if it was happening on Liberty’s home courts rather than at Tibbetts Park, due to the school’s extensive construction project.
“If we had our tennis courts right now, we could be thriving on this even more,” he said. “I’ve been told that next year the boys season will be playing on Liberty High School courts and I just can’t wait for that.”
Liberty vs. Mount Si
- 3:45 p.m. Sept. 13
- Tibbets Park Tennis Courts