Girls tennis: Skjonsby captures 4A Narrows League singles title

TACOMA — No one will question the desire of South Kitsap junior Kailyn Skjonsby.
After rain soaked the tennis courts at the high school, Skjonsby decided she needed some fine-tuning before the Class 4A Narrows League tennis tournament began at the University of Puget Sound.
Skjonsby, who became the Wolves’ first girls’ tennis player to win a league singles’ championship since Stephanie Davison in 2005, arranged to practice on a court at 4:30 a.m. Friday — 4 ½ hours before the tournament began.
That dedication paid off as Skjonsby, who was undefeated in 4A Narrows during the regular season, had little difficulty capturing the league title. She defeated Olympia junior Alli Bautista 6-3, 6-1, on Saturday afternoon for the championship.
“She puts in the time and does the dirty work a lot of club players won’t,” South coach Todd Olson said.
Skjonsby, who advances to the West Central District Tournament, which begins Saturday at Auburn Riverside, finished second in 4A Narrows last year and fifth at districts. But Olson said she has substantially improved since then.
“Leaps and bounds,” he said. “She’s so much tougher. She no longer gets down on herself, and she’s so much faster on the court.”
Davison, who went on to have a successful playing career at the University of Texas, was the Wolves’ last player to win a state championship in ’05. Olson said he would not discount Skjonsby doing the same, though.
“I think those are realistic goals,” he said. “I think she can do anything as long as her head is there.”
Skjonsby, who paired with Chloe Helms to win the 4A Narrows doubles championship in 2010, said she is more confident than ever in her ability.
“I’ve been working really hard,” she said. “I’m a lot better than last year and I’m really excited to show my stuff.”
Skjonsby did that again with Bautista, whom she also defeated last year at districts. She attributed her focus to helping her win serve returns and a few aces.
“I watched the ball and made sure it ended up in the court,” Skjonsby said.
She said the play of teammate Alicia Soto in the singles tournament also was an inspiration for her. Olson said Soto, who was eliminated along with doubles partners Kailey Lyman and Ashley Garza, worked so hard that
she could not walk afterward.
“I was trying to channel Alicia Soto during my match,” Skjonsby said. “She would fight for each point.”
After two months of seeing mostly the same competition, Skjonsby said she is excited to fight for points against different competition.
“It definitely will be more challenging,” she said. “I just have to keep positive and stayed focused.”
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