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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2004


In a virtual tie, Wolverines squeak by

Local tennis teams send 28 to state meet

Express Staff Writer

The outcome was as close as a third-set tiebreaker when Wood River and The Community School clashed for supremacy last weekend during the 2004 Fourth District 3A prep tennis tournament at Sun Valley Tennis Club.

Call it a virtual tie—each team winning 29 matches and losing 16, each team scoring big (Wood River 81 points doubles, Community School 60 singles) in their specialties and each team pulling off some upsets.

Giving Wood River key points was the district runner-up girls’ doubles team of Jackie Safran (left) and Devon Bunce. Check Local Life in the next two weeks for more great photos from the district meet. Express photo by David N. Seelig

So, it came down to head-to-head match-ups, and Wood River was a little better in the trenches Saturday on the final day of the two-day, state-qualifying tournament.

The Wolverines won five of the six head-to-head doubles matches and came away with the slimmest of team victories.

Wood River, winning its 13th district tennis championship but its first since 1996, snapped The Community School’s six-year stranglehold on the district team trophy by a margin of 109-106. Declo Hornet’s (45) were a distant third.

Coach John Radford of Wood River said, "We did well in head-to-head match-ups today."

The most obvious ones that turned the tide in Wood River’s favor came in boys’ doubles and mixed doubles.

In boys’ doubles, the #3-seeded WRHS team of Dao Okamoto and Thomas Phelan survived a 7-6 (8-6) first-set tiebreaker and beat #4-seeded Christian Cairncross and Wes Flanigan by scores of 7-6, 6-1 in Saturday’s title match.

Community School freshman Mandy Alexander is headed to state with Luke Fostvedt in mixed doubles. Express photo by David N. Seelig

Saturday’s mixed doubles championship saw #2-seeded Danny Gariepy and Whitney DeBree of Wood River rally for a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 triumph over top-seeded Luke Fostvedt and Mandy Alexander of The Community School.

"Danny and Whitney got their legs under them after falling behind in the first set, and both teams really battled it out all the way," Radford said.

Less obvious, but vitally important to Wood River’s championship drive, was Ashley Prior’s thrilling 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) victory over junior Caitlin Cairncross of the Cutthroats that secured the third- and fourth-place spots for Hailey.

Also critical were the boys’ doubles split-set win of Wood River’s Frank Fiaschetti and Hunter Storey over Tyler Chandler and Ben Roth of the Cutthroats, and, earlier in the tourney, the girls’ success of Hailey’s Jackie Safran and Devon Bunce over McKenzie Hart and Joanie Baumgardner.

Dao Okamoto started the season in singles, but his boys’ doubles pairing with Thomas Phelan led to a district title for Wood River Saturday. Express photo by David N. Seelig

Coach Mark Scribner’s Cutthroats were accustomed to close team wins in their amazing six-year district reign—winning 108-105 over Wood River in 2001 and 119-115 over the Wolverines in 2000, plus the slim 121-117 Cutthroat win over Jerome in 1998.

This one slipped away, but Scribner saluted all 85 of the players by saying, "It was a great tournament."

The upshot is both Blaine County teams—having tied for second place with 59 points apiece behind Homedale (62) in last year’s state tournament—had plenty to brag about entering the State 3A tourney Friday and Saturday, May 21-22 in Boise.

Scooter Sabel outlasted teammate Tyler Martin in a three-hour boys’ singles title match marathon at Sun Valley. Express photo by David N. Seelig

Wood River will send 12 players to state including its 1-2 girls’ doubles teams of Ellie France and Abby Fairman, and Safran and Bunce. France and Fairman were the only top-seeded doubles team to prevail last weekend, in split sets over Safran and Bunce.

While Wood River swept the doubles titles Saturday, the Cutthroats as expected swept singles led by senior Amy Alexander. She successfully defended her singles title and lost only five games in three straight-set wins.

In boys’ singles, the steady volleying of sophomore Scooter Sabel finally wore down top-seeded junior Tyler Martin and #2-seeded Sabel prevailed 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in a Cutthroat-to-Cutthroat championship match that lasted three hours and six minutes.

As somebody said, you could have grown old watching the Sabel and Martin play baseline tennis but both were superb practitioners of the tactic.

Ellie France, Wood River senior, teamed with Abby Fairman for the district girls’ doubles title Saturday. Express photo by David N. Seelig

The Community School, having won four of the fifth-place matches Saturday, ended up qualifying a school-record 16 of its 18 district entries for the upcoming state tournament. Ironically, that’s the same number the Cutthroats qualified for state in 1997 when they lost to Jerome 109-96 for the district championship.

Because of their vast numbers and its power in singles, the Cutthroats could realistically exceed 50 points when singles are counted up at state, and they could nail down a third State 3A title in four years if the Sun Valley doubles teams come through in Boise.

Wood River, making its 29th trip to the state tennis tournament and its last before moving up to 4A next year, will be seeking its first state championship in 16 years dating back to 1988.

Check this week’s Express Web site for a complete summary of last weekend’s district tennis tournament at Sun Valley. Here are the district’s qualifiers, the top five making state.

Boys’ singles: First place—Scooter Sabel (CS soph) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 over Tyler Martin (CS junior). Third place—Travis Moss (D) 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 over Aaron Fleming (S-S). Fifth place—Satoshi Komura (G) 6-1, 6-3 over Kyle Niedrich (WR soph).

Girls’ singles: First place—Amy Alexander (CS senior) 6-1, 6-0 over Katie Wall (D). Third place—Hadley DeBree (WR sophomore) 6-2, 6-2 over Ashley Prior (WR sophomore). Fifth place—Caitlin Cairncross (CS junior) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 over Jeah Bel Flores (G).

Boys’ doubles: First place—Dao Okamoto-Thomas Phelan (WR senior, freshman) 7-6 (8-6), 6-1 over Christian Cairncross-Wes Flanigan (CS freshman, sophomore). Third place—Frank Fiaschetti-Hunter Storey (WR seniors) 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 7-5 over Morgan Frederickson-Ryan Willis (G). Fifth place—Tyler Chandler-Ben Roth (CS sophomore, junior) 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 over Justin Pickup-Steve Blakeslee (D).

Girls’ doubles: First place—Ellie France-Abby Fairman (WR senior, sophomore) 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 over Jackie Safran-Devon Bunce (WR sophomores). Third place—McKenzie Hart-Joanie Baumgardner (CS sophomore, senior) 6-2, 6-4 over Anneke Sanders-Nicole Kasimatis (G). Fifth place—Lily Mott-Ginna Anderson (CS sophomores) 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 over Alyssa Elexpuru-Sarah Shull (G).

Mixed doubles: First place—Danny Gariepy-Whitney DeBree (WR senior, freshman) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 over Luke Fostvedt-Mandy Alexander (CS senior, freshman). Third place—Eric Olsen-Ashley Peterson (D) 6-2, 6-2 over Megan Koyle-Braden Turner (D). Fifth place—J.P. McNeal-Blake Ellis (CS juniors) 6-2, 6-4 over Gavin Kastner-Kira Gardner (WR junior, freshman).


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