With clear skies overhead after some rainy days and canceled boys tennis matches, the Lake Washington and Juanita netters invaded the dry Kang courts on Sept. 26 for a 3A KingCo contest.
Yells of support and laughter filled the air along with the vicious pop of balls knocking against racquets as the Kangs and Rebels battled it out. LW emerged with a 5-2 victory and evened its overall record at 3-3 at press time. Juanita fell to 2-3 overall.
LW’s No. 1 singles player and team captain Brett Pearson won his match and felt that his serve was stellar on the day. The 6-foot-2 sophomore, who took second at No. 1 singles at state last season, nailed seven aces against last week’s opponent, Juanita sophomore Dylan Bard.
After Pearson at No. 1 singles, coach John Stalker is thrilled to have the sophomore Wehrle brothers — John and Matthew — at Nos. 2 and 3 singles, respectively. Stalker said the siblings possess sterling all-around games.
“Throughout the whole team, not just the first three, we’re really starting to get better at practice. Everyone’s working hard. I think we’re gonna get some wins coming up,” said Pearson, who noted that he and John Wehrle both won four of five singles matches at the United States Tennis Association team zonals in California over the summer.
Stalker’s analysis of Pearson is that, along with his potent serve and impressive footwork, he brings solid defensive slices and powerful groundstrokes to the court.
Following his victory in his first match of the year against Juanita’s Jake Haas, John Wehrle said his forehand return and drop shots were solid.
“(It) felt pretty smooth. I was hitting the ball well. It was a good match,” said Wehrle, who takes online classes while his brother attends Bellevue Christian during their first year on the LW squad. “The team is super fun and practice is super competitive.”
On the Juanita side of the net, coach Mike Fleming praised Bard, Haas and No. 3 senior singles player Sahir Karmali for unleashing their competitiveness each time out.
Bard, who is a year-round player, jumped from the No. 2 singles spot to No. 1 this season and feels he’s got a powerful forehand on his side.
“I love challenges, I love playing people that are better than me. Getting better,” Bard said of playing in the top singles position.
He began playing tennis in the summer of fifth grade when his dad — a tennis instructor at Arizona State University — showed him the ropes.
“Ever since I started playing, I just loved it. Every day I like it more,” Bard said.
Senior Haas has been playing for the Rebels for four years and hopes the team can snag a winning season.
“This is probably one of the best years for our team as a whole. We have a lot of seniors that are playing this year,” said Haas, who has been playing tennis since the seventh grade and likes his groundstrokes and consistent play.
“We gotta push through every match as hard as we can, even if we’re down,” Haas noted about Juanita’s game plan.