Spartans wallop Wolves in KingCo girls tennis

April 29, 2014

By Neil Pierson

By Neil Pierson Skyline High School’s Shreenu Sivakumar lines up a forehand shot during her three-set victory over Eastlake’s Kayla Lee on April 22 in a KingCo Conference girls tennis match.

By Neil Pierson
Skyline High School’s Shreenu Sivakumar lines up a forehand shot during her three-set victory over Eastlake’s Kayla Lee on April 22 in a KingCo Conference girls tennis match.

Tarika Sivakumar and Rianna Eduljee had never played together before, but the Skyline High School tennis duo looked like old pros when they hit the court last week.

Eduljee, a junior, and Sivakumar, a sophomore, were paired up in the No. 1 doubles slot when Skyline hosted Eastlake April 22 in a Class 4A KingCo Conference match.

Eduljee and Sivakumar had relatively little trouble beating Alison Tran and Angela Zou, winning 6-4, 6-0 to lead the Spartans to a 7-0 victory over the Wolves.

Eduljee typically pairs with Shreenu Sivakumar — Tarika’s older sister — in doubles matches, but Spartans coach Bettina Gehle shuffled her lineup and got good results from the new pairing.

Tarika Sivakumar said the match went well in most aspects.

“Both our serves were going really well. I think that was the main thing,” she said. “We were able to play strategy better, just kind of wear down the opponent.”

Tarika Sivakumar has gained experience playing indoor tennis for several years. As a freshman, she largely played singles for Skyline’s junior varsity squad, and is still catching up to the nuances of doubles play.

“With singles, it’s more hitting hard, and with doubles, it’s more placement and keeping the ball in,” she said. “And it’s different because you have to work with another person, too, which is also kind of nice because you’re not wearing yourself down the entire match.

“I like doubles — there’s a lot more strategy to it.”

Eduljee said she’s unsure who she’ll partner with at the conference tournament, which Skyline hosts May 12-14, but she feels confident either way.

“Shreenu is going to be playing singles for a few games … so we’ll just see if it maybe completely clicks and (Tarika) ends up being my new doubles partner,” Eduljee said.

Skyline dominated Eastlake in most matches, needing a third set on only one occasion. That came at No. 4 singles, where Shreenu Sivakumar outlasted Kayla Lee (6-1, 3-6, 6-3).

The Wolves were missing their usual No. 1 singles player, Katie Park, who sat out because of what coach Bud Peterson termed “exhaustion.” Peterson expects Park will return for the postseason.

With Park out, Skyline’s Theresa Huang had her way with Nicole Yen, winning 6-3, 6-2. Huang skipped her sophomore tennis season, but has returned as a junior and has set an ambitious goal for herself — placing in May’s Class 4A state tournament.

Against Yen, Huang felt her backhand and serve were strong, but she needs to improve most facets of her game, including her forehand, volleys and footwork. And she’s trying to maintain focus on the remaining regular-season matches rather than the KingCo tournament.

“I’m trying not to think about it,” she said.

In other singles matches, No. 2-seeded Julie Lioubarski, of Skyline, defeated Michelle Knutson (6-1, 7-5), and teammate Jasmine Ye ousted Nicole Knutson in the No. 3 match (6-1, 6-0).

At No. 2 doubles, Skyline’s Kourtney Kirton and Avery Sampson beat Ashwathy Goutham and Maria Angulo (6-2, 6-0). Spartans Hilary Taylor and Emily Licholai took out Shabina Rayan and Amber Vander Kooi (6-1, 6-1) in the No. 3 match.

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