In one of Idaho's biggest and best high school tennis tournaments, the Wood River High School tennis team showed its talent and determination last weekend in Boise—not to mention its thundering serves.
Wood River placed a heady third of 32 teams in the two-day Capital Invitational tournament Saturday. Although the Wolverines have been a perennial Gem State tennis power since the 1970s, their finish in this year's Capital tournament was one of the best if not the best in school annals.
Idaho 5A powers Boise (298 points) and Eagle (223) led the field, but 4A Wood River (191) tied 5A Timberline of Boise (191) for third place. The Wolverines had the best team finish of all Idaho 4A schools.
In No. 2 mixed doubles, senior Quentin Dowdle and freshman Haley Cutler made it all the way to the main draw finals where they dropped a very close 7-6 (5), 6-4 title match.
Coach Vicki Johnston said, "It was an exciting weekend, a team effort all the way around. It shows that every match counts. Last year I was shocked when our team finished in eighth place. This time we got a ton of girls' points to go with our strength in the boys' events, and we did way better than I would have thought."
Played each year two weeks before the state tournament, the Capital meet brings together some of the best Northwest regional talent and gives smaller schools like Wood River a chance to measure up.
Johnston said, "It gives us a chance to make sure we're ready to compete with the best. You play hard and have nothing to lose. Like, when a young player of ours like Haley Cutler started to get frustrated in her mixed championship match, I said Haley, look where you are, you're in the finals!"
The meet featured a fun, specialty contest as well.
Sage School senior Raleigh Grossbaum of Wood River (109 miles per hour) and Hailey junior Margaret Reutter (87 mph) won the "fastest serve" competitions against entrants from all 32 teams on Friday night at Capital High School. "It completely boosted Margaret's confidence," said coach Johnston.
Each won a tennis racquet bag.
After Friday's first day of play, the 32 entrants in each event were split into a main draw and a consolation draw. All of the Wood River players contributed points by playing—and quite a few besides Dowdle and Cutler made it to at least the semi-finals including:
Tufts University-bound Karl Wilander made the main draw semi-finals in No. 1 boys' singles. He lost only to eventual champion Matt Odenetto of Boise, a senior who shared the 2011 5A boys' doubles title;
Also, Margaret Reutter was the consolation winner in No. 2 girls' singles; Lily Richards achieved the consolation semi-finals in No. 1 girls' singles; and Alex Feldman made the main draw semi-finals in No. 3 girls' singles;
Stephen Pfeiffer and Hannah Baybutt earned the main draw semi-finals in No. 1 mixed doubles; and Alex Taylor and Michaela Rodriguez made the consolation semi-finals in No. 2 girls' doubles.
Wood River is home against Jerome for "Senior Day" on Thursday, May 3 at the high school tennis courts in Hailey.
The state-qualifying Great Basin Conference tournament is Tuesday and Wednesday, May 8-9 at Twin Falls High School. The top four singles players and doubles teams will make state from the six-school 4A Great Basin. "I'm really happy with my team and their positioning," said Johnston.