Girls tennis titles on the line at KingCo

May 20, 2014

By Neil Pierson

Jasmine Ye (left) and Julia Lioubarski, Skyline High School doubles partners, are on the court May 13 having a successful run during the Class 4A KingCo Conference girls tennis championships. By Neil Pierson

Jasmine Ye (left) and Julia Lioubarski, Skyline High School doubles partners, are on the court May 13 having a successful run during the Class 4A KingCo Conference girls tennis championships. By Neil Pierson

The 28 singles players and 28 doubles teams that converged on the Skyline High School tennis courts last week knew they’d have to be on top of their games.

At the Class 4A KingCo Conference girls tennis championships, only the two finalists in singles and doubles were guaranteed berths into the state tournament, while the third-place finisher had to win a crossover match with a Wesco Conference foe to get there.

As it turned out, the competition wasn’t the only thing that proved daunting over the course of the three-day event. Eighty-degree temperatures greeted the players in the afternoons, making fitness even more vital.

“I think the heat really makes us tired, but I think we played really well today still,” said Skyline junior Jasmine Ye, who was paired with sophomore Julia Lioubarski. “I think we were confident in our game, and that’s important.”

Ye and Lioubarski looked solid in their May 13 quarterfinal victory, getting out of the gates quickly and shutting down Roosevelt’s Julia Mirick and Izzy Mason.

There weren’t a lot of extended points during the 6-1, 6-2 victory, as the Spartans’ duo served well and kept Mirick and Mason pinned to the baseline, forcing mistakes.

“Normally, we both play singles, so that’s a lot of running,” Ye said, “and in doubles, we cover half the court, so I think it’s a little easier for us.”

Ye and Lioubarski played doubles for two early-season matches, and then returned to singles for the bulk of the season to best help the team.

But the KingCo singles bracket was stacked with talent, Ye explained, so Spartans coach Bettina Gehle reunited the duo to give them a better chance of advancing to state.

They were one of the top-four seeds into the tourney, giving them a first-round bye. After dispatching Newport’s Kari Nasu and Sara Park (6-0, 6-1) and the Roosevelt duo, they lost in the semifinals to Inglemoor’s Jenae Chinn and Michaela Jendralova, the eventual champions.

They rebounded with a victory over Issaquah’s Kelsey Wilson and Halle Gordon.

Lioubarski, a right-hander, said she complements well with the left-handed Ye.

“It’s fun playing with Jasmine because she knows how to pump you up and motivate you, and she doesn’t get mad if you miss, so it’s an easy partnership,” Lioubarski said.

Lioubarski and Ye were the No. 3 seed from the tournament, and lost a winner-to-state crossover match May 16 against the Wesco Conference’s third seed.

Skyline’s other KingCo qualifiers were singles players Theresa Huang, Sherry Huang and Hilary Taylor; and the doubles teams of Rianna Eduljee and Shreenu Sivakumar, and Avery Sampson and Kourtney Kirton.

Issaquah’s top-six placing during the regular-season standings gave the Eagles three singles and three doubles entries into the event.

Wilson and Gordon didn’t advance to state, but the seniors had a solid season, Issaquah coach Gary Kiyonaga said. Wilson was a state runner-up in 2013, pairing with former star Samantha Garrard, who now plays for Seattle University.

“They’ve been playing together for the whole season,” Kiyonaga said. “They’ve been teammates for four years, but this is the first year that they’ve focused together as a doubles team.”

Wilson and Gordon advanced to the KingCo semifinals with a hard-fought victory over Newport’s Ashley Sun and Erica Hsia. After dropping the first set in a tiebreaker, they won the last two sets impressively (6-2, 6-2).

In singles, Issaquah’s Ellen MacNary, Lucy Huffman and Regina Darahovski were eliminated early. The doubles teams of Eve Shih and Sami Mittman, and Inyoung You and Emma Gavin also didn’t make it past the first day.

Kiyonaga said his players were ready for the grueling test of possibly playing five matches in three days.

“They’re conditioned for it,” the coach said. “There’s a little bit of a fatigue factor because it’s warmer than regular, but this tournament is structured nicely. There’s no problem with that.”

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