Sports

SK tennis team aims to be less one-dimensional

When it comes to the South Kitsap girls tennis team, the discussion begins and ends with Stephanie Davison. Or does it?

Davison, the freshman sensation who placed second at the state tournament last year, returns for her sophomore season to lead a group of young but talented players hoping to throw a few surprises at their opponents this year.

“This year is kind of a different season for us,” South Coach Todd Olson said. “We don’t have very many returners, other than our two sophomores and Emily (Ader).”

Davison and Charlotte Duren return along with senior Ader to rebuild a team that placed second in divisionals and third at the state meet last year. Davison won the Narrows League singles title, the West/Central District singles title and placed second at state, losing to three-time defending champ Amanda Taylor of Richland.

“Hopefully this year we’ll get (Taylor),” Olson said. “ It would be a good way to break that streak for Stephanie.”

“The fact that she made it that far as a freshman, that’s a huge accomplishment,” Ader said. “And it does drive us to do better.”

While Davison, who attended King’s West last year but is enrolled at South Kitsap this year, will be the main focus for the Wolves and their opponents, Olson has some experience to blend with a group of newcomers, including Duren.

“Charlotte would play No. 1 at most any other high school,” Olson said. “We’re fortunate enough to have Stephanie, so she is always going to be playing second fiddle to her. It’s kind of nice to have the two of them.”

Olson said Duren, who was one match away from the state tournament last year, will step in to play No. 1 singles on occasion, most likely when Davison is gone to play in national tournaments.

“It’s nice because Charlotte can step in and play,” Olson said. “Any day that Stephanie wants a day off from playing singles, we can throw her in doubles and not have to worry about our singles. And Charlotte has been great about that.

“Stephanie, every day at practice, has made Charlotte a better player because they get to practice together all the time.” Olson said. “They get to duke it out in challenge matches.”

Duren said she’s ready for the challenge.

“Being at No. 2 is cool. It’s just as fun,” Duren said. “It’s less pressure but it still keeps me playing hard.

“I worked on my serve all summer and just my game strategy and stuff,” Duren said. “My game is better than last year.”

With the top two set, Olson has plenty of options in rounding out his singles lineup.

“I’m not real sure how strong we will be down at the bottom,” Olson said. “We could be good down at the bottom.”

Kelsey Morgan, Melissa Watson, Maria Smith and Shannon Brown should round out the singles lineup Olson said.

“Those are the four that I expect that are going to fill in,” Olson said. “But it’s still early, of course, and that could change a lot during the season. But those are the ones that look like they’ve put in a lot of time.”

The doubles’ tandems are the team’s only question mark, Olson said.

The Wolves do not have a single doubles team returning intact. Ader, paired with as many as three different partners last year, returns to anchor that side of the team.

“My personal goal is to make it to state,” Duren said. “As a team, I think we can be stronger and win more matches.”

Ader, a junior, used her first year in tennis to move up from the junior varsity to a spot on South’s No. 2 doubles team.

“I did improve a lot last year, and that was good,” Ader said. “I want us to grow as a team and do better than last year.”

Ader specializes in doubles but could move over to singles play if needed. Duren will play both singles and doubles and may be paired with Davison for certain big matches.

“There’s a lot of opportunities available there,” Olson said. “It’s just who wants to take the initiative and step forward.”

Olson said the doubles teams will consist of basically the same core of singles players like Morgan, Watson, Smith and Brown.

“Every day it changes,” Olson said. “One day I think Kelsey is going to play with Emily, and then I think Melissa is going to be playing, and then Shannon. So, it’s going to take a while, it’s going to take some shuffling.”

The Wolves open the season March 15 at home against Stadium and have some big non-league matches with Wilson and Mount Tahoma on the schedule as well.

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