It's a perennially strong program that has sent players to state tournaments for 35 years.
But rarely have Wood River High School tennis players had better success during their regular season series of dual meets and tournaments than this spring.
The Wolverines went 14-2 in their dual meets including a spotless 10-0 roll in Great Basin Conference tournament play. Hailey's boys, defending State 4A champs, are 16-0 in their meets and the girls are 12-3-1.
Now, Wood River will try to translate its training and experience into more success in post-season tournaments starting today, Wednesday with the first day of the two-day Great Basin Conference 4A district tournament in Twin Falls.
Matches begin at 10 a.m. at the following locations—boys' singles at Twin Falls High School, girls' singles at Canyon Ridge High School, boys' doubles on the College of Southern Idaho courts, girls' doubles at Harmon Park and mixed doubles on the Frontier courts.
The start of the tournament was delayed one day because of predicted bad weather in Twin Falls Tuesday, so the final day of the meet was bumped back to Thursday, May 12 at 10 a.m.
All finals and third-place matches are scheduled for Thursday at 2:30 p.m. at the Twin Falls High School courts. Separate boys' and girls' team championships will be given.
The top four individuals and top four doubles teams from the six-school conference will qualify for the State 4A tourney May 20-21 in Boise. Wood River swept the GBC titles last spring over runner-up Twin Falls, the boys 73-42 and the girls 72-36.
Wood River head coach Vicki Johnston said this week, "We are fired up for districts. Our expectations are high and we know what we have to do to take it all the way."
Last Thursday's "Senior Day" home finale against the Canyon Ridge Riverhawks on the Hailey courts was a good opportunity to measure the progress of the Wolverines and the much-improved Riverhawks, a team that finished near the bottom in last May's state-qualifying district meet.
Canyon Ridge did a good job, picking up a pair of singles wins and a No. 1 girls' doubles victory. It was the second time this season Wood River has defeated Canyon Ridge by a 9-3 margin (5-1 boys, 4-2 girls).
Nevertheless Wood River was in command throughout.
Varsity seniors honored were Ellen Davis, Jessica Hamilton, Bryan Donoso, William Eagan, Gardner Cord and Cal McCarthy. Junior varsity seniors were Jordan Levin and Hunter Van Bramer.
"We had a great day honoring our seniors," said Johnston. "They have all proven their leadership. On and off the court they display positive attitudes, the desire to be the best, and the ability to make life fun. They are amazing doubles players and they will be a huge part of the team's hopeful success at state."
Johnston said about Thursday's home finale, "We had a few great matches that were true battles.
"No. 3 boys' singles Lane Coulthard stuck it out to the end winning his match in two tiebreakers 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3). He stayed consistent, very patient and made fewer errors.
"Also playing No. 1 singles for us was Cole Caminiti winning his match in three sets 4-6, 6-0, 6-1. Cole is confident and can move the ball around throwing his opponent off balance which made for an easy put away. He has raised his game to the next level.
"No. 2 and No. 3 girls' singles Lily Richards and Alex Feldman always contribute their greatest efforts and are two of the most improved players on the team. They have desire to win and have shut their opponents down all season."
Richards and Feldman won their matches in straight sets.
Wood River swept boys' doubles and mixed doubles with No. 1s Charlie Grabow-Josh Morell (6-1, 6-0) and Raleigh Grossbaum-Jessica Hamilton (6-0, 6-1), and No. 2s William Eagan-Gardner Cord (6-3, 6-2) and Bryan Donoso-Ellen Davis (6-1, 6-2).
The Wolverines also won No. 2 girls' doubles with Alex Taylor-Audrey Brassil (6-4, 6-2).
The Riverhawks' No. 1 girls' doubles team of Staci Baird and Isabel Stienke were singles players the last time the two teams played in March. But on Thursday they were partners. They defeated Wood River's No. 1 Hannah Baybutt-Margaret Reutter 6-0, 7-5.
In conference tournament seeding, Baird-Stienke are No. 1 and Baybutt-Reutter No. 2. Top seed in girls' singles is Canyon Ridge junior McKenzie Baggett. Otherwise, the top seeds today are all Wolverines.
Karl Wilander is No. 1 in boys' singles, Grossbaum-Hamilton No. 1 in mixed doubles and Grabow-Morell No. 1 in boys' doubles.
District next for Cutthroat tennis
Going for its seventh consecutive 3A District 4/5/6 championship and 13th title in 14 years, The Community School tennis team will host the three-school district tournament on Friday, May 13.
Location is Sun Valley Tennis Club. Competing besides coach Phil Huss' Cutthroats will be Gooding and Sugar-Salem of Sugar City. Each team will have 18 players. Action starts Friday at 9 a.m.
At stake are three berths from the district in boys' singles, girls' singles, boys' doubles, girls' doubles and mixed doubles for the State 3A tournament May 20-21 at Vallivue High in Caldwell.
The Cutthroats won their final regular-season match last Friday by an 8-4 score at home over Sugar-Salem. Four matches went the Cutthroat way by default, but there were key wins cementing the win.
Providing those wins were No. 2 and No. 3 boys' singles Doug DuFur and Zach Lewis, No. 1 boys' doubles Nick Wright and Ben Swift, and #1 girls' doubles Morgan Atkinson and Noe Garing.