Sports

Rain doesn't dampen optimism for SK tennis team

Todd Olson’s timing for taking over the South Kitsap High School girls tennis program couldn’t come at a better time.

The boys tennis coach was hired last fall to take over the girls tennis program after Sue Burklund decided to step down after 12 years as the team’s coach.

Burklund had always hoped to have club players on her teams in the past but couldn’t get over the “building” stage of the sport.

Burklund’s vision is coming to fruition this year, though Olson will be able to reap the rewards of having two club players, including nationally ranked freshman Stephanie Davison.

Davison and fellow freshman Charlotte Duren are club players who play tennis year round.

Duren, a ninth grader at Marcus Whitman Junior High, is a member of the Tacoma Lawn and Tennis Club while Davison’s tennis roots are at the Bremerton Athletic Club.

Davison attends King’s West High School, but the private school does not have a tennis program so she is allowed to play at the school district where she resides.

The Port Orchard native is no stranger to the United States Tennis Association.

She is currently ranked No. 2 in the USTA Pacific Northwest rankings in the under-16 age division.

She is ranked No. 105 nationally.

Strengthening the team is the return of seniors Lacy Hultz, Sarah Burt, and Tasha Wagner.

Olson said the biggest obstacle has been wet weather.

“We’ve only been on the courts five times this season,” Olson said. “Our practices have pretty much been banging the ball against the wall.”

Olson said the addition of Duren and Davison obviously strengthens the team.

“Our girls are looking to be a lot better than the past teams,” Olson said. “Charlotte is a real hard worker and Stephanie is going to be tough.”

Sickness has put Davison’s SK debut on hold.

All players must have 10 practices in before being eligible to play.

Because of the weather forecast for the week, Davison may not miss a match.

Olson said the senior trio of Hultz, Burt, and Wagner will also play a big role in the Wolves’ drive to beat perennial power Bellarmine for the first time.

Beating Bellarmine is an accomplishment no SK team has ever achieved.

The Lions make the trek to Port Orchard April 16, but it comes at a time Davison and Bellarmine’s No. 1 player will be playing a prestigious Easter tournament.

A rainout would allow the teams to go against each other at full strength.

Olson said beating Bellarmine and Capital are goals set by the team.

Individually, Duren and Davison will be gunning for state—a feat no SK girls player has accomplished before.

Four other freshman are playing tennis this year, which Olson said is a sign of good things to come with the program.

“We’ve never had this many freshman before,” he said. “I’m hoping the our young players can be a positive influence to younger kids to want to play tennis.”

Barring a rainout, SK will have its home opener against Port Angeles today at 3:30 p.m., followed by a home match tomorrow against Foss.

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