Sports

Game, set and match for Davison

In the classroom, Stephanie Davison may just be a sophomore. But on the tennis court, she’s a hardened veteran.

That much was obvious last month when Davison pulled off what no one else had ever been able to accomplish — beating Richland’s Amanda Taylor.

Davison did just that in the final match of the Class 4A state tennis tournament in Spokane, snapping Taylor’s three-year run as state champion with a 7-5, 7-5 win.

That made Davison the new queen of Washington tennis and cemented status the Port Orchard Independent’s South Kitsap Female Athlete of the Year as voted on by the sports staff of the Independent.

Davison topped a strong list of female athletes competing for South this past year. Others receiving consideration were Lauren Gehring in soccer, Loni Tostenrude in basketball, Leah Bradley in basketball and track, Stephanie Olsen in volleyball and Amanda Galla in fastpitch softball.

Davison lost just one match all year, that one an early 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 loss to Bellarmine Prep’s Suzie Matzenauer back in March.

“She had a great year. She only had one loss,” South tennis coach Todd Olson said. “Afterward, she said it really didn’t bother her that much because she knew she’d beat her when it really counted.”

In fact, Davison beat Matzenhauer the next day in straight sets and hasn’t lost a set to her since. That marked the point at which Davison began playing the type of tennis needed to win the state title.

“We had a sense about it at the time of the league tournament,” Olson said. “When she handled Suzie pretty easy in that first league match, I knew that we had gone a long ways compared to last year in that we should do a lot better.”

After that, the focus turned to Taylor.

“Coming into state, and all season long, we just talked about beating Amanda Taylor,” Olson said. “The things we needed to do, how we needed to play more mental tennis than physical tennis because all of her skills are there already. She just had to beat her mentally on the court.

“We had to come in, don’t get down, keep a positive attitude, keep moving and stop any momentum that Amanda got,” Olson said. “And she went out and did that.”

Davison’s two-set victory was the first loss for Taylor in her high school career. Entering the match, Taylor was a perfect 133-0.

“I’m pretty proud of my self, now that I’ve been able to sit back and look it,” Davison said. “I represented my school pretty well and that’s basically what it’s about.”

But Davison did put in the work needed to win it all.

“Again, it was a great year, she worked hard,” Olson said. “She goes to the (Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Club) every day and comes to practice every day. Sometimes she has three or four practices a day and works on her game, so it’s that dedication that helps her out.”

But don’t think about burnout entering the equation anytime soon.

“This the the fourth year that I’ll be doing this and it’s not getting old yet,” Davison said.

“Not with Stephanie so much,” Olson said. “Because of her attitude — that’s what she wants to succeed at. We’re not too worried about it.”

Davison has always taken the time to make sure her high school matches are separate from her USTA junior matches.

Davison said she will move up an age bracket this summer, getting as much playing time in the 18-year-old group as she can.

“I think high school is more of her time to get away from the real serious national tournaments,” Olson said. “So she kind of takes a little break from that with the high school tennis. It’s a more social atmosphere and I think it helps her stay motivated.

“I think they are both completely different,” Olson said. “Of course, she has more fun with the social atmosphere with the players on the team than she does at the national level where it’s just her and her folks. That part is definitely a lot more enjoyable for her.”

Although she hasn’t had much time to enjoy her title. Olson said Davison has been playing tennis every day since winning the state title and will continue to do so throughout the summer.

But there are things she can work and and areas she can improve inm including, “just getting stronger,” Olson said. “You never know who’s going to come up. There could always be that freshman that comes in and knocks her off now. So, now that we’re on top, we just have to maintain that, keep working hard.”

Again, it’s the mental part that Olson is talking about.

“She has every stroke in the book,” Olson said. “Her technique is great ,so now it’s all mental. And she’s only going to improve.

“She one of the most gifted people I know,” Olson said. “I’ve known her family now for a while and she’s great at tennis, piano, golf — she could be one of our top golfers in the school if she wanted to do that. She’s just an unbelievable athlete.”

But one who keeps a good perspective on her surroundings.

“I think she has a pretty firm grasp of everything,” Olson said. “And that’s just from all of the exposure she’s had nationally. She knows just where she’s at.

“And her attitude’s always good and positive,” Olson said. “You never hear a negative thing out of her mouth.”

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