Boys tennis preview: Senior returns from injury as South Kitsap's top singles player

Dakota Giddings returns for his senior season as the Wolves
Dakota Giddings returns for his senior season as the Wolves' No. 1 singles player.
— image credit: Chris Chancellor/Staff photo

Schedule Date Opponent
Thursday at Foss
Sept. 15 Wilson
Sept. 16 Capital
Sept. 20 Lincoln
Sept. 22 at Mount Tahoma
Sept. 24 South Kitsap Invitational
Sept. 26 Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 27 Bellarmine Prep
Sept. 29 at Stadium
Oct. 4 Central Kitsap
Oct. 6 at Shelton
Oct. 11 Olympia
Oct. 13 at Gig Harbor
• All matches are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. expect South Kitsap Invitational, which does not have a set time.

Coach: Todd Olson, 10th season.
Key returners: Dakota Giddings, sr.; Austin Hammer, jr.; Shawn Lange, jr.; Matthew Lyman, jr.; Edwin Stearns-Droker, sr.; Austin Wilson, jr.
Key departures: Zach Prince, graduated; Isaac Roinas, graduated; Blake Staudenraus, graduated.
Key newcomers: Isaiah Roinas, fr.; Aaron Scott, fr.

Under different circumstances, it might be viewed as a letdown.

But South Kitsap senior Dakota Giddings does not have to worry about that.

Giddings was set to challenge Blake Staudenraus for the Wolves’ No. 1 singles position a year ago. But Giddings injured his right wrist and instead played No. 1 doubles in 2010.

Staudenraus, a four-year varsity player, has graduated. Giddings has ascended to the top singles position without a challenge, but feels he still has plenty to prove.

After all, South has not sent a boys tennis player to the Class 4A state tournament since Dalton Vavra in 2007.

Giddings, who competes on the United State Tennis Association circuit, feels he can end that streak.

“I just need to get everything solid,” he said. “That’s what the top players have.”

Giddings, who was a state alternate as a doubles player last year, feels most aspects of his game are strong, but there is one area he would like to improve.

“I definitely need to work on my forehand,” he said. “I need more consistency with it.”

As for his health, Giddings said he is not concerned.

“I definitely fixed my wrist,” he said. “I did physical therapy for a bit. It’s been fine for all of 2011.”

South coach Todd Olson said state berths will be difficult to obtain. Only four singles players and four doubles teams from 4A Narrows advance to the West Central District Tournament. A couple of players from Olympia alone — junior John Stormans and senior Blake Wood — likely will earn two of the league’s singles spots.

“You have to win three in a row to guarantee you’re going (to state),” Olson said. “It’s definitely tough.”

While Giddings competes for a spot at state, others are vying for the remaining varsity positions. Junior Shawn Lange returned last year to play No. 2 singles after missing the 2009 season with a broken foot.

“He’s a pure athlete and a hard worker,” Olson said. “He runs down everything.”

But Olson said Lange also is a candidate to play No. 1 doubles. That is because Giddings’ teammates, Isaac Roinas, graduated. Roinas’ brother, Isaiah, a freshman, could be a candidate to play singles or doubles.

Olson said returning juniors, Matthew Lyman, Austin Hammer and Austin Wilson, also are candidates to play doubles in addition to freshman Aaron Scott and senior Edwin Stearns-Droker. He also did not discount other players emerging before the season begins Thursday at Foss. Olson said about 30 players turned out, which roughly is 10 more than usual.

“It’s good to be that deep,” he said. “They’ll push each other and make bigger strides.”

Olson likes to schedule a difficult nonleague schedule early in the season to prepare his team for 4A Narrows play. One of those is Sept. 16 against Capital, which plays in 3A Narrows.

“I just schedule them because they have such a long tradition of being good,” he said.

That also would describe Bellarmine Prep, which regularly sends players to state. The Wolves face the Lions on Sept. 27, which is a day after a nonleague match against Thomas Jefferson.

“If we’re not ready for Bellarmine by the time we play them,” Olson said, “I don’t know what could make us ready for them.”

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