Lake Washington’s No. 1 singles player Charlize Yeh controls the ball against Juanita. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Lake Washington’s No. 1 singles player Charlize Yeh controls the ball against Juanita. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Tennis equals life for LW and Juanita players

Girls are implementing hard work and positive vibes

Relax, focus, play smart and never give up.

Tennis strategy or life skills? Lake Washington High coach John Stalker says those four keys to success can equally apply to someone who’s swinging a racquet or doing their day-to-day thing.

“Things happen, and you apply that to your life and I think it will be just fine,” said Stalker, who philosophized while his Kangs took on Juanita in a girls tennis match on April 10 at LW. The Kangs won, 7-0, and upped their record to 3-0 in league and 4-0 overall while the Rebels dropped to 0-3 in league and 2-3 overall.

“We have some skilled players and they’re very determined players, really good attitude,” Stalker added. This is Stalker’s first full year as the Kang varsity head coach after spending 10 years as the junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach.

This is Liz Currey’s first year coaching at Juanita after holding the reins for 10 years at Lynnwood and Stanwood high schools and the Brighton School in Mountlake Terrace.

Her tennis philosophy is try your best, move your feet and play smart, which the Rebel girls have grasped onto each day.

“They are wonderful, they are positive, they work really hard. They’re very coachable and they’re really supportive of each other,” said Currey, noting that the resilient girls travel across town to LW to practice on the Kangs’ lower courts because construction is in full swing at Juanita. “(It) shows how it doesn’t even matter to these girls ‘cause they just wanna be here and play, which is really cool.”

Freshman Charlize Yeh, who leads the LW squad at No. 1 singles, unleashes a power game and never gives up during matches, according to Stalker.

“I’ve had a lot of team support and coach Stalker is amazing,” said Yeh, adding that her forehand is tops in her arsenal: “I use that a lot as my main weapon on the court.”

Locked into the No. 1 spot, Yeh doesn’t feel much stress because her fellow Kangs are there for her. “I’m just thinking to have fun because high school is a really fun time and I love playing these matches,” she said.

Other solid LW players are sophomore Sasha Chudin at No. 2 singles, sophomore lefty Saba Tabai at No. 3 singles and doubles sophomores Kate Cocales, Alyah Hanson and Nicole Carpenter and senior Grace Allenstein.

Cocales, who also plays singles, paired up with Hanson against Juanita. Last year, the duo competed together in doubles at the KingCo tournament and they may do so again this time out.

Hanson said that crucial aspects of a stellar doubles team are “staying confident and communication. She does a good job of keeping me motivated.”

Against Juanita, the girls smacked high fives throughout the entire match, whether they won a point or not.

“We’re really good friends, so we’re comfortable with each other. It’s good to pump each other up and not have a negative attitude,” Cocales added.

Juanita’s No. 1 singles player Grace Wang sets up a shot against Lake Washington. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Juanita’s No. 1 singles player Grace Wang sets up a shot against Lake Washington. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

On the Juanita side, junior Grace Wang grips the No. 1 singles spot and displays mental and physical strength, Currey said.

“I’m a junior, so it’s been pretty stressful at school. Tennis-wise, it’s just been really fun this year so far,” said Wang, who also plays at Central Park Tennis Club in Kirkland.

Wang enjoys getting caught up in the intense matches with her opponents. She’s focused on “just being mentally stable, being calm, not really putting too much pressure on myself, ‘cause I tend to do that sometimes.”

Other top Juanita players include No. 2 and No. 3 singles players Luisa Gomez, a freshman, and Angela Lothian, a junior, and doubles players Emily Do and Maggie Jiang, who are both juniors.

Do has been part of the Rebel squad for three years and began playing the sport in sixth grade. She echoed the LW girls’ assessment of doubles success, noting that communication and teamwork are paramount when the ball is in play.

The Rebels have bonded off the court, as well, when driving to and from LW for practices.

“Most of us carpool, we’ve gotten really close after all that commuting. The group of girls is small, so we all know each other and we’re all really good friends,” Do said.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Sports

Kentwood High football. FILE PHOTO
WIAA Executive Board revises Season 1 sports in response to state guidelines

Practices scheduled to begin Feb. 1 for football, volleyball, soccer and 5 other sports

The Mercer Island boys basketball celebrates their 61-36 victory over Interlake in the 3A KingCo championship game on Feb. 11, 2020, at Sammamish High School. File photo
WIAA pushes back return to play for prep sports

Season 2 now begins Feb. 1 and seasons have been shortened to seven weeks each.

In this file photo from March 2020, the Federal Way High School boys basketball team reacts in the final minutes of the state quarterfinals game against Mt. Si High School. File photo
New guidelines released for return of prep sports in WA

The new plan places counties and sports in three-tier systems. No signs of a quicker return to play.

Doctor IDs safety measures for youth team sports practices
Doctor IDs safety measures for youth team sports practices

Before practice begins, parents must understand COVID-19 protective protocols

Pictured: A Mercer Island High School swimmer competes in fall 2019. Washington Interscholastic Activities Association recently announced the girls swim and dive season will be moved to “Season 3,” which begins March 1. File photo
WIAA gives schools option to delay start of prep sports until December

An updated plan moves girls swimming to Season 3 and makes fall cross country an alternate season.

The Todd Beamer Titans football team in Federal Way during a 2019 summer practice. File photo
WIAA modifies prep sports calendar; football moved to spring

Washington’s high school athletics governing body announced its revised plans for the… Continue reading

WIAA delays start dates for fall sports
WIAA delays start dates for fall sports

Football practices to begin Sept. 5, all other sports planned for Sept. 7.

Northwest University’s Ford signs with Seattle Mountaineers
Northwest University’s Ford signs with Seattle Mountaineers

The 6-foot-6-inch forward ended his senior season as the No. 1 rebounder in the nation with 12.03 rebounds per game.

Northwest’s volleyball team stays connected during trying times
Northwest’s volleyball team stays connected during trying times

The squad has been using Zoom to hold weekly meetings during which they check in and pray for each other if needed.

No-show season: WIAA announces cancellation of spring sports, activities
No-show season: WIAA announces cancellation of spring sports, activities

Due to the school closure extension, the cancellation includes all practices, competitions, tournaments and championships, WIAA says.

There’s still hope for spring sports, WIAA announces
There’s still hope for spring sports, WIAA announces

Washington Interscholastic Activities Association making contingency plans for high school sports competitions after extension of stay home order.

The WIAA announced Wednesday that if schools reopen at the conclusion of the six-week statewide shutdown ordered last week by Gov. Jay Inslee, then the state championships will go on as planned. (WIAA photo)
WIAA still hoping to hold state championships in May

But if the school shutdown extends past April 24, those championships could be in jeopardy.