Girls tennis preview: Tennis squad still trying to sort itself out

South Kitsap sophomore Kailyn Skjonsby hopes to serve as the school
South Kitsap sophomore Kailyn Skjonsby hopes to serve as the school's No. 1 singles player after winning that Class 4A Narrows League doubles championship with Chloe Helms last year.
— image credit: Chris Chancellor/Staff Photo

Date Opponent
April 12 Mount Tahoma
April 14 at Bellarmine Prep
April 16 South Kitsap Invitational
April 19 Stadium
April 21 at Central Kitsap
April 26 Shelton
April 28 at Olympia
May 2 Gig Harbor
• With the exception of the South Kitsap Invitational (8 a.m.), all matches begin at 3:30 p.m.

Coach: Todd Olson, 10th season.Key returners: Meredith Carlson, sr.; Kailey Lyman, jr.; Carissa Rill, sr.; Kailyn Skjonsby, so.; Kylie Thomas, so.Top newcomers: Riley Dopps, sr.; Ashley Garza, jr.; Marianne Vargas, sr.Key departure: Chloe Helms, graduated.

The seemingly constant downpour has left more unsettled on the tennis courts than South Kitsap coach Todd Olson cares for.

His girls tennis team features some returning talent, notably senior Meredith Carlson and sophomore Kailyn Skjonsby, but Olson said he still is sorting out the final two doubles teams.

Last season, Olson used his top two players — Skjonsby and Chloe Helms, who has graduated — as the Wolves’ No. 1 doubles team. Helms started the season as the team’s No. 2 singles player, but Olson said she felt more comfortable with doubles. The result was her teaming up with Skjonsby to guide South to its first Class 4A Narrows League doubles championship in school history.

But unlike Helms, Skjonsby said her preference is to play No. 1 singles this season. Skjonsby said that is because she has more experience as a singles player since she first picked up a racket in fourth grade.

“I’ve really been working on my mental game,” Skjonsby said. “Just being smart and setting up points.”

Olson said he has the flexibility to use Carlson and Skjonsby as the No. 1 doubles team, or let them play singles. If they play doubles, sophomore Kylie Thomas could emerge as one of the Wolves’ top singles players.

“She’s probably going to play some singles for us,” Olson said. “She’s really improved a lot over the summer.”

Junior Kailey Lyman also has emerged and Olson expects her to take one spot on the No. 2 doubles team.

“She’s improved her game a lot and will step into the upper echelon of doubles,” Olson said.

He said the final spot on the second team and doubles positions on the No. 3 doubles squad have yet to be determined. Senior Carissa Rill returns, while seniors Riley Dopps and Marianne Vargas and junior Ashley Garza also could contribute.

“Every day they challenge — whenever we have weather,” Olson said. “Somebody new always seems to be in (those last varsity positions).”

He said 60 players turned out for the team and he reminds each that they always can challenge players for their positions.

“I think that helps motivate them,” he said. “We don’t determine playing spots on those team — you do.”

Dopps, who qualified for state in the 400-meter dash last year, has signed to play for the women’s soccer team at Seattle Pacific University. Olson expects her to contribute this season.

“She’ll probably break into that varsity spot,” he said. “She’s a great athlete and works really hard.”

Despite some of the uncertainty and inexperience in the final varsity spots, Olson said he expects to place high in 4A Narrows.

“We always have high expectations,” he said. “We know we’re going to be at the top almost every year with Bellarmine, Gig Harbor, Olympia and CK.”


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