GIRLS TENNIS: Parity playing out on SPSL courts

Parity is playing out on the South Puget Sound League North Division girls tennis courts this season despite a rash of cancellations.

Poor weather has wiped out a good chunk of the schedule for each team in the North, forcing a litany of upcoming makeups. The result is that no team has yet to reach the halfway point of the season. But through six meets on Thursday afternoon, Kentwood appeared to be the team to beat, improving to 6-0 with a 3-2 victory over Thomas Jefferson.

But the season thus far has essentially been about competitive balance.

Jefferson (4-2) and Kentridge (5-1), the North Division's two favorites heading into the season, split a pair of meets last week. Kentridge ran the table in the North last year, but has been put to the test by the Raiders and Auburn.

"We knew it wouldn't be easy (to repeat as champions), and plan to battle until the end," Kentridge coach Jennifer McIntosh said.

Kentridge will receive its biggest test of the season on Tuesday, when it travels to Kentwood (6-0) for a 3:30 p.m. showdown.

A Kentwood win would ultimately put the Conquerors in the driver's seat for the SPSL North title. Kentwood finished in second place last year and won the division the year before.

"This league is really difficult and up for grabs," said Kentwood coach Ingrid Bakke. "If a team can step up and perform consistently for the next couple of weeks, they could win league."

Kentwood looked like that team this past Thursday when it fended off Jefferson. Freshmen sensation Tess Manthou got Kentwood off on the right foot in No. 1 singles, sweeping through Caroline Min, 6-0, 6-1. Kentwood's Korin Hedlund held off Julia Suico in No. 2 singles, 6-3, 6-1.

After getting swept in No. 1 and No. 2 doubles, Kentwood duo Aera Shin and Camille Madsen helped the Conquerors put away the Raiders — barely. Shin and Madsen worked a 6-4, 7-6 (11-9) meet-clinching victory.

Kentridge remained just one meet back of Kentwood in the win column on Thursday, breezing past Auburn Riverside, 4-1. Kentridge's Kim Quach and Jazmin AhYat worked victories in No. 1 and No. 2 singles. Katherine Melville and Kelsey Robson secured the team win with a victory in No. 2 doubles while Shereya Sherude and Beth Vanden Huevel added some breathing room with a win in No. 3 doubles.

Meanwhile, Kentlake collected its second North Division victory of the season on Thursday, nipping Federal Way, 3-2. It took strong performances from all three of Kentlake's doubles teams to get it done, too. Julie Williams and Kara Ikeda began the comeback with a two-game sweep of Federal Way's Amanda Tran and Mina Park. Kelsey Wagner and Lexi Bolton continued Kentlake's momentum in No. 2 doubles, narrowly upending Dalynn Wingard and Jolai Persinger 7-5, 6-7 (7-4), 6-3. Kentlake's Christine Rushton and Kimmy Williams sealed the victory with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 win over Federal Way's Vanessa Pham and Katrina Honrade.

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