Tennis: South Kitsap falls short against Narrows power

South Kitsap senior Chloe Helms won her first match as a singles player, 6-2, 6-1, Tuesday against Bellarmine Prep’s Emily Carter. - Kenny Gatlin photo
South Kitsap senior Chloe Helms won her first match as a singles player, 6-2, 6-1, Tuesday against Bellarmine Prep’s Emily Carter.
— image credit: Kenny Gatlin photo

Call it the Bellarmine Prep benchmark.

South Kitsap coach Todd Olson was eager to see how his program compared against the perennial Narrows League champion.

But all he was left with were possibilities — how his team could have been successful — if his completely reshuffled lineup had not shown its inexperience at the varsity level in a 4-1 loss Tuesday.

It started with the No. 1 singles as junior Meredith Carlson lost 6-3, 6-3 against Lions freshman Meesha Sundarum. While Carlson is not new to varsity, she never competed in the top position before this year.

“I know she’s frustrated because she didn’t play up to her standards,” Olson said. “We had a good game plan, but we couldn’t execute what we needed to do.”

He said he is confident Carlson, who moved up to the top singles position after serving at No. 2 the previous two seasons, will continue to improve. Even though South had its league opener at Foss last week, rain prevented singles players from competing.

“That’s not the normal player out there that we saw,” Olson said. “She definitely will do better.”

Carlson said she had a fever Monday and was excited to overcome it and play Sundarum for the first time. While she did not use the illness as an excuse, Carlson said she was a little nervous to step into the No. 1 singles.

“It was a learning experience,” she said. “The first set was good, but then I didn’t adapt to her game.”

Junior Chloe Helms, who played on the top doubles team since 2007 with Emily Hulscher, who graduated, had the Wolves’ lone win. She defeated Emily Carter 6-2, 6-2 at the No. 2 singles. Helms improved her record to 1-1 after a season-opening loss against Gonzaga Prep.

“To see that huge improvement that quick is an amazing job,” Olson said.

Helms said the victory should help her develop confidence in the new role.

“I’m happy about it,” she said. “I started with the mentality that I can beat them and I’m not scared of their name.”

Olson said that perspective needs to be adopted throughout the roster. He cited the third doubles team of Brie Shinners and Haley Mishko, who took a 5-4 lead in the first set before losing 7-5, 6-1 against Gracie Trelevon and Jessica Hagel.

“We came up a little short and got a little tight and nervous,” he said. “That comes with the first time playing varsity. We’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities.”

Olson said he felt his No. 2 doubles team of Taryn Donovan and Carissa Rill did a “great job of fighting back” before losing 7-5, 6-4 versus Jen Foster and Kelly Watermeyer.

The Lions’ No. 1 doubles team of Lauren Adams and Hollie Wurst also won 6-1, 6-0 against Amanda Debock and Meghan Leber.

Despite his feelings that eliminating a few errors could have changed the outcome of the match, Olson said his team has plenty of work to do. He said several players still are transitioning to a higher level of competition after playing on junior varsity last year.

“I know all the varsity players can hit the strokes, but having that competitive drive is very important,” he said. “We need to focus on getting after it when we get on the court — making sure our opponents don’t have any easy shots and winners.”

He also believes the Wolves’ early schedule has accentuated some of those problems because Bellarmine Prep and Gonzaga Prep generally are two of the state’s top Class 4A programs.

“We played Gonzaga Prep, which is at the same level if not better than Bellarmine,” he said. “We like to try and prepare ourselves and get our girls where we need to be at for state.”

Bellarmine Prep 4, at South Kitsap 1

Singles: Meesha Sundarum (BP) d. Meredith Carlson 6-3, 6-3; Chloe Helms (SK) d. Emily Carter 6-2, 6-1.

Doubles: Lauren Adams-Hollie Wurst (BP) d. Amanda Debock-Meghan Leber 6-1, 6-0; Jen Foster-Kelly Watermeyer (BP) d. Taryn Donovan-Carissa Rill 7-5, 6-4; Gracie Trelevon-Jessica Hagel (BP) d. Brie Shinners-Haley Mishko 7-5, 6-1.

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