The spring weather was nice and the match-ups seemed favorable for Saturday's final day of the State 4A tennis tournament sponsored by the Idaho High School Activities Association on several courts in Boise.
Yet nothing can be taken for granted when the best high school tennis players in Idaho gather for state competition. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you don't. And it turned out to be a tough day for the Wood River High School tennis team.
Harboring legitimate hopes of repeating as the State 4A boys' team champion and also claiming the title as overall team champion for the second straight year, Wood River couldn't seal the deal and settled for silver in 2011.
The Wolverines could have tasted the gold and the good feelings that come with it. They came oh, so close. They played some of their best tennis of the year and exciting matches. But it just didn't work out.
Silver came in the form of the boys' team trophy won by Hillcrest of Idaho Falls 44-39 over second-place Wood River. It came with second-place finishes by junior Karl Wilander in singles and Charlie Grabow-Josh Morell in boys' doubles.
There was the third-place result of junior Raleigh Grossbaum and senior Jessica Hamilton in mixed doubles.
Such were the Wolverine achievements of the 22-school meet. It was a tournament during which coach Vicki Johnston's 12 state qualifiers won 11 of their 24 matches. They also tasted adversity for the first time of what's been a memorable winning season.
And the adversity seemed to be contagious.
There's no sugar-coating the outcomes of a pair of eerily similar two-hour and 40-minute split-set marathons at state. Wood River players had both matches in their grasp. In each case their opponents rose up, showed their mettle and escaped with unlikely wins.
Hundreds of tennis players and fans who were gathered for the final State 4A awards ceremony at Boise State University's Appleton Tennis Center were treated to the exciting conclusion of the boys' doubles final between Grabow-Morell and Hillcrest's siblings Taylor Neville and Hunter Neville.
Grabow had been paired with Grossbaum in boys' doubles last May, and they upset the Neville brothers 6-2, 6-3 in the championship match.
This year, junior Grabow had been partnered with sophomore Morell for only about a month, but they won three preliminary matches in straight sets to reach Saturday's final. In their second match, Grabow-Morell rallied from a 5-1 second-set deficit to beat a Columbia pair 6-4, 7-5.
With good dispositions, calm temperament and solid teamwork, Grabow and Morell won the first set 6-4 and jumped ahead 4-2 in the second set of the championship match. Grabow played with characteristic consistency and Morell added powerful groundstrokes, a killer forehand and powerful serves to the Wolverine mix.
Yet Grabow started to struggle with his serving. Hillcrest broke him, held service and won three straight games for a 5-4 lead. Three winning Morell serves and a Grabow slam down the middle of the court tied it 5-5 and Wood River broke Taylor Neville for a 6-5 lead. Grabow served for the match and Wood River went up 30-15, but couldn't close it out.
The Hillcrest brothers, gaining confidence and playing with emotion, eventually won the second-set tiebreaker 9-7.
Much the same scenario played out in the decisive third set. Wood River skunked Hillcrest in two straight games for a 4-2 lead and broke senior Taylor Neville's serve for a 5-3 cushion. Serving again for the match, the Hailey boys went up 40-0 in the next game. But the Knights won five of the next six points to stay alive 5-4.
And Hillcrest won the final three games to take home its improbable 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-5 win.
In mixed doubles, the de-facto championship match in the minds of most observers was actually the Saturday morning semi-final between Grossbaum-Hamilton and the Pocatello senior-junior pair of Sander Hadley and Karlie Standley. Hadley-Standley were third in mixed at state in 2010.
Grossbaum and Hamilton had been virtually unbeatable since coach Johnston put them together soon after the season began. On Saturday, the Capital Invitational mixed doubles champs won the first set over their Gate City rivals 7-5.
Pocatello, with Hadley pounding powerful serves and slams and Standley matching the talented Hamilton shot for shot, fought back in the second set for a tiebreaker. The Wolverines led 3-1, 4-2 and 6-3 in the tiebreaker and put Grossbaum on the line serving twice for the match. Nonetheless Pocatello survived the break 10-8.
Some of the avid Pocatello rooters alongside the court got on Grossbaum's nerves as the Wood River pair tried to reassemble from a rare loss of a set.
Not only did Hadley-Standley break Grossbaum immediately on the first service game of the set, Pocatello built a commanding 4-0 lead with Hadley dominant at the net. Still, Wood River battled back for a 4-3 deficit on Hamilton's serves—as her deep, well-placed lobs to the backcourt raised some Hailey havoc.
On her serve, Standley skunked Wood River for a 5-3 lead. Next was an epic game, Grossbaum serving, during which Wood River fought back from a 40-15 deficit to finally win, after eight deuces.
Could it be? Trailing 5-4, could Wood River stay alive on Hadley's blistering serve? It looked that way, WRHS building a 40-15 lead. But three devastating slams by Hadley took the wind out of Wood River's sails and Pocatello ultimately prevailed 5-7, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4.
Hadley and Standley advanced, breezing to the championship in straight sets later Saturday. Grossbaum and Hamilton picked themselves up and won two more matches in straight sets for third. In all, Grossbaum and Hamilton won four of five matches at state to finish up a terrific partnership.
In boys' singles, Wilander was equally impressive in three straight set victories setting up a final match-up with Century sophomore Josh Goodwin, the defending champion. Goodwin made it two straight titles, 6-4, 6-2. As for Wilander, the silver was his best at state, after two successive third-place finishes.
State results follow:
2011 State 4A tennis tourney
May 20-21, 2011
At Boise's Timberline HS(doubles), BSU Appleton Center (boys' singles and all finals) and East Junior High School (girls' singles)
22 schools, 128 players
Final overall team totals (state qualifiers in parentheses)
1—Century of Pocatello (12).....49 points
2—Wood River (12).....45 points
3—Hillcrest of Idaho Falls (5).....44
3—Bonneville of Idaho Falls (4).....44
5—Madison of Rexburg (9)..... 37
Others—Bishop Kelly of Boise (13) 31 points, Pocatello (4) 23, Blackfoot (6) 19, Skyview of Nampa (5) 18, Twin Falls (7) 15, Columbia (8) 9, Burley (6) 9, Sandpoint (12) 7, Kuna (8) 7, Canyon Ridge of Twin Falls (4) 5, Moscow (2) 4, Lakeland of Rathdrum (2) 3, Mountain Home (1) 2, Nampa (3) 2, Minico of Rupert (2) 1, Emmett (2) 1 and Jerome (1) 0.
Breakdown by boys and girls
1—Hillcrest.... 44 (6th state title, 3rd boys' title in 4 years)
2—Wood River.... 39
1—Bonneville....36 (2nd state title, first in 2010)
Points by category—
(49)—Century 20 BS, 20 GS, 2 BD, 7 GD, 0 MD=49
1st—BS, GS. 2nd—none.
(45)—Wood River 17 BS, 0 GS, 16 BD, 0 GD, 12 MD=45
1st—none. 2nd—BS, BD. 3rd—MD. 4th—none.
(44)—Hillcrest 12 BS, 0 GS, 32 BD, 0 GD, 0 MD=44
1st—BD. 2nd—none. 3rd—BS, BD. 4th—none.
(44)—Bonneville 0 BS, 23 GS, 3 BD, 0 GD, 12 MD=38
1st—none. 2nd—GS, MD. 3rd—GS. 4th—none.
Points by singles/doubles—
45—Wood River (11-13 all matches)—17 points singles (4-7), 28 points doubles (7-6)
State team championships (43rd time):
2011 (4A)—Hillcrest (boys, 6th state title) and Bonneville (girls, 2nd straight state title)
2010 (4A)—Wood River (boys, 4th state title) and Bonneville (1st state title)
2009 (4A)—Hillcrest (boys) and Hillcrest (girls, 4th and 5th state titles)
2008 (4A)—Hillcrest (boys) and Hillcrest (girls, 2nd and 3rd state titles)
2007 (4A)—Bishop Kelly (17th state title)
2006 (4A)—Bishop Kelly (16th state title) and Hillcrest
2005 (4A)—Bishop Kelly (15th state title)
2004 (4A)—Bishop Kelly
2003 (4A)—Vallivue. 2002 (4A)—Vallivue. 2001 (4A)—Bishop Kelly.
1998-2000 (Class B)—Bishop Kelly. 1997—Jerome.
1996—Homedale. 1995—Bishop Kelly. 1993-94—Parma. 1992—Jerome.
1991—Parma. 1989-90—Jerome. 1988—Wood River. 1987—Vallivue.
1986—Wood River. 1985—Jerome. 1983-84—Bishop Kelly. 1982—Wood River.
1981—Gooding. 1975-80—Bishop Kelly. 1973-74—Payette. 1972—Bishop Kelly.
1971—Parma. 1970—Parma and Jerome. 1968-69—Parma.
State team titles (big and small schools, since 1963)—Bishop Kelly 17, Capital 16, Borah 10, Parma 10, Centennial 8, Jerome 6, Boise 7, Hillcrest 6, Community School 5, Wood River 4, Vallivue 3, Meridian 3, Homedale 2, Idaho Falls 2, Payette 2, Bonneville 2, Gooding 1, Nampa 1, Twin Falls 1.
This was the 36th year Wood River represented at state.
State titlists (17—3 S, 14 D):
2010 (4A)—Raleigh Grossbaum and Charlie Grabow BD
2008 (4A)—Scott Pike and Morgan Pike BD.
2007 (4A)—Cory Rutkowski and Whitney DeBree MD.
2004—Jackie Safran and Devon Bunce, GD.
2003—Dixon Mooseau and Hadley DeBree MD.
2002—Ashley Lakey and Jessie Woodyard GD.
2001—Casey Werth and Vince Nagashima BD; Ned Flanagan and Aprilia Hagglof MD.
1989 and 1990—John Driscoll BS. 1986—John Jacoby BS.
1986—Marianne Moore and Ann Ferries GD.
1982—Adele Allender and Anise Morrow GD.
1980—Hal Sweasey and Lance Levy BD.
1979—Laura Newcomb and Eric Exline MD.
1979—Jonathan Angle and Kelly Coles BD.
1978—Jonathan Angle and Buddy Levy BD.
Boys singles (16 players)
1—Josh Goodwin (Century sophomore, 2010 BS champion)
2—Karl Wilander (WR junior, 2009 3A BS 3rd place, 2010 4A BS 3rd place)
3—Brody Wright (Hillcrest sophomore, 2010 BS 4th place)
4—Dallas Hunt (Twin Falls sophomore)
Summary: WR 4-3 match record, 17 points BS
Championship—Josh Goodwin (Century sophomore) 6-4, 6-2 over Karl Wilander (WR junior)
Third place—Brody Wright (Hillcrest sophomore) 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 over Dallas Hunt (Twin Falls sophomore)
Karl Wilander (WR junior, 3-1)
Won 6-3, 6-1 over Soren Schmidt (Madison senior)
Won 6-1, 6-1 over Hunter Levy (Moscow sophomore)
Won 6-3, 6-2 over Brody Wright (Hillcrest sophomore)
Lost 6-4, 6-2 to Josh Goodwin (Century sophomore)—championship
Cole Caminiti (WR sophomore, 1-2)
Lost 6-0, 6-0 to Josh Goodwin (Century sophomore)
Won by forfeit
Lost 6-2, 6-2 to Sam McKellar (Bishop Kelly junior)
Girls singles (16 players)
1—Olivia Wathne (Century sophomore, 1st GS 2010)
2—Erica Shenton (Bonneville junior, 4th 2009, 3rd 2010)
3—Kaylee Fennern (Bonneville junior, 4th 2010)
4—Kiley Heffner (Bishop Kelly senior)
Summary: WR 0-4 match record, 0 points GS
Championship—Olivia Wathne (Century sophomore) 6-1, 7-5 over Erica Shenton (Bonneville junior)
Third place—Kaylee Fennern (Bonneville junior) 6-1, 4-1 ret. over Kiley Heffner (Bishop Kelly senior)
Erin Murphy (WR junior, 0-2)
Lost 6-3, 6-2 to Esbeida Ramos (Skyview junior)
Lost 6-1, 6-1 to Hailey Dobson (Madison sophomore)
Lily Richards (WR sophomore, 0-2)
Lost 6-0, 6-0 to Shae Stults (Columbia senior)
Lost 6-3, 6-1 to Mackenzie Baggett (Canyon Ridge junior)
Boys doubles (16 teams)
1—Taylor Neville-Hunter Neville (Hillcrest senior-sophomore, 2nd BD 2010)
2—Charlie Grabow-Josh Morell (WR junior-sophomore)
3—Riley Salmon-Andrew Messinger (Hillcrest seniors)
4—Jake Kumferman-Ryan Miles (Madison senior-freshman)
Summary: WR 3-3 match record, 16 points BD
Championship—Taylor Neville-Hunter Neville (Hillcrest senior-sophomore) 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-5 over Charlie Grabow-Josh Morell (WR junior-sophomore)
Third place—Riley Salmon-Andrew Messinger (Hillcrest seniors) 6-1, 7-5 over Jake Kumferman-Ryan Miles (Madison senior-freshman)
Charlie Grabow-Josh Morell (WR junior-sophomore, 3-1)
Won 6-1, 6-0 over John Burlille-Vincent Ta (Bishop Kelly junior-freshman)
Won 6-4, 7-5 over Parker Albertson-Brandon Nguyen (Columbia sophomores)
Won 6-3, 6-4 over Riley Salmon-Andrew Messinger (Hillcrest seniors)
Lost 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-5 to Taylor Neville-Hunter Neville (Hillcrest senior-soph)—championship
William Eagan-Gardner Cord (WR seniors, 0-2)
Lost 7-5, 6-1 to Kyle Kener-Alex Howell (Century senior-junior)
Lost 6-3, 6-2 to Oscar Marsical-Caleb Hughes (Nampa senior-sophomore)
Girls doubles (16 teams)
1—Claire Goodwin-Liz Hansen (Madison senior-junior)
2—Ayla Lau-Meg Matsurra (Blackfoot junior-sophomore)
3—Brittney Washburn-Lindsey Washburn (Skyview sophomores)
4—Mandy Carlson-Jenny Sadler (Bishop Kelly juniors)
Summary: WR 0-0 match record, 0 points GD
Championship—Claire Goodwin-Liz Hansen (Madison senior-junior) 7-5, 6-4 over Ayla Lau-Meg Matsurra (Blackfoot junior-sophomore)
Third place—Brittney Washburn-Lindsey Washburn (Skyview sophomores) 7-5, 6-3 over Mandy Carlson-Jenny Sadler (Bishop Kelly juniors)
No local players
Mixed doubles (16 teams)
1—Sander Hadley-Karlie Standley (Pocatello senior-junior, 3rd MD 2010)
2—Tanner Roberts-Ashlee Trane (Bonneville senior-sophomore)
3—Raleigh Grossbaum-Jessica Hamilton (WR junior-senior)
4—Alex Greener-Makena Haynie (Burley seniors)
Summary: WR 4-3 match record, 12 points MD
Championship—Sander Hadley-Karlie Standley (Pocatello senior-junior) 6-2, 6-4 over Tanner Roberts-Ashlee Trane (Bonneville senior-sophomore)
Third place—Raleigh Grossbaum-Jessica Hamilton (WR junior-senior) 6-0, 6-2 over Alex Greener-Makena Haynie (Burley seniors)
Raleigh Grossbaum-Jessica Hamilton (WR junior-senior, 4-1)
Won 6-0, 6-0 over Nicholas Kirk-Taylor Larson (Emmett seniors)
Won 6-1, 6-1 over Ryan George-Chelsea Dexter (Madison sophomores)
Lost 5-7, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4 to Sander Hadley-Karlie Standley (Pocatello senior-junior)
Won 6-1, 6-2 over Michael Shreeve-Erika Cross (Kuna senior-sophomore)
Won 6-0, 6-2 over Alex Greener-Makena Haynie (Burley seniors)—third place
Bryan Donoso-Ellen Davis (WR seniors, 0-2)
Lost 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-2 to Ryan Byers-Gabby Abernathy (Pocatello senior-freshman)
Lost 6-3, 6-2 to Tyler Cannon-Lindsay Loveland (Blackfoot juniors)