Girls tennis: Skjonsby looks to build on last year’s state-playoff appearance

It was an unenviable position to be placed in.

South Kitsap’s Kailyn Skjonsby advanced to the Class 4A state girls tennis tournament last spring where she drew Kamiak’s Elaine Baik — the eventual state champion — in the first round.

Skjonsby lost 6-0, 6-0 and then followed that with another setback in the consolation round against Eisenhower’s Claire Bohoskey to be eliminated from state.

But Skjonsby, now a junior, said those setbacks served as motivation to improve.

“I definitely plan to improve,” she said. “It taught me a lot mentally.

“It’s all mental. It’s just keeping that poker face and staying positive.”

Wolves coach Todd Olson has noticed.

“Her mental toughness is a lot better,” he said. “She’s playing each point a lot stronger. She knows she has the ability to beat anyone.”

Skjonsby, who only lost one 4A Narrows League match last year, is entrenched as South’s No. 1 singles player. But Olson is excited about the talent behind her. Junior Kylie Thomas finished with a 10-6 league record in 2011 despite losing “her first four or five matches,” according to Olson.

“It will be nice to see how she matures,” he said.

Depth never is a concern for the Wolves’ tennis program, which has had as many as 90 players turnout in the past. Olson said there are about 50 athletes in the program this year, which leaves plenty of competition for doubles spots.

Senior Kailey Lyman is looking for a new partner on the top doubles team after Meredith Carlson graduated. Olson said that role could fall to senior Ashley Garza, who missed last season with an undisclosed injury.

Others who could vie for doubles spots include seniors Katie Groll and Alicia Soto and juniors Sam Barrow, a transfer from Central Kitsap, and Allison Vargas. Olson said a quartet of sophomores — Rachel Bauman, Kennedy Craig, Laura Rill and Emily Wilkins — also will compete for varsity time.

He said he is hopeful that the team’s returning talent coupled with an influx of sophomores means that South can improve on its 5-2 league record from last year.

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