Coach Kramer retools team with new players | SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW

Tessa Chiarizio returns a forehand from the baseline. The junior may step into open spots on the tennis team.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Tessa Chiarizio returns a forehand from the baseline. The junior may step into open spots on the tennis team.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

It’s hard to replace a state tennis contender like Lindsey Newman.

That’s one of the tasks ahead of South Whidbey’s head tennis coach Tom Kramer.

Who better suited to try and fill the void than her sister, Hayley?

“Now that I’m in singles, I really want to go to state,” she said. Lindsey also played singles. “It’s my goal, because Riley is going and I want to go with him.”

Riley, a South Whidbey senior, is Hayley’s brother. He will play in the state tournament in May as the District 1 champion. Newman said she appreciates playing with her older brother and learning from him.

“I don’t normally get many points off of him, because it’s Riley,” Newman said. “But even if it’s just him returning my serve and giving me pointers, it means a lot to have a big brother like that.”

Hayley admitted she felt the burden of expectation from Kramer and herself.

“Based on the past, and some of the girls [Kramer] coached, his expectation is to go to state,” Newman said. “For someone like me, a Newman with older siblings – I think every one actually went to state – he’s always like hovering over my back.”

She added: “I just listen to him [Kramer], because, as he always says, he’s always right.”

The top three singles players, top doubles team and Hayley Newman’s former doubles partner all graduated.

“We haven’t started a season with this many questions in a long time,” Kramer said.

Kramer had a vague idea of his team’s internal standings and needed more court time to let their play establish the ranking. The rain didn’t do Kramer any favors.

However, the team’s late start to the season gave it a chance to find court time. He said Newman, Kalie Stayskal, Lyna Nichols and Andrea Berg are his most experienced players.

Twenty girls tried out for the tennis team, which Kramer said was about average. It allows him to have a junior varsity team and to float some players between varsity and JV matches. He said he was concerned with the depth of his team, and stressed it couldn’t weather injuries and sustain its competitive edge.

The Falcons finished last season 10-3 in District 1 play. Two of the losses had glaring score differentials: Squalicum (5-2 loss) and Bellingham (6-1 loss). Most Cascade Conference schools do not have a girls tennis team — Lakewood was the only other school to have a tennis team — and South Whidbey plays schools from the Northwest Conference instead. This year has an increase in Cascade Conference girls tennis teams — Granite Falls and Coupeville both have teams this year, in addition to Lakewood and South Whidbey. The Falcons will face each Cascade Conference team three times, weather permitting, and plays Anacortes, Bellingham and Sehome from the Northwest Conference.

South Whidbey traveled to Granite Falls on Friday, March 18 for its first match, and Newman’s first high school match as a singles player on a quest to match her sister’s legacy. She’s ready for the challenge.

“I’m way more self-[critical] to me than to other people,” Newman said. “I don’t want to get mad at them. By myself, I can easily say stuff and have it be corrected.”

Girls tennis

Friday, March 18, Granite Falls

Monday, March 21, Lakewood*

Friday, March 25, Anacortes

Monday, March 28, Lakewood*

Thursday, March 31, Sehome

Wednesday, April 13, Granite Falls*

Friday, April 15, Coupeville

Monday, April 18, Friday Harbor TBA

Wednesday, April 20, Granite Falls

Friday, April 22, Coupeville*

Monday, April 25, Lakewood*

Wednesday, April 27, Friday Harbor* TBA

Friday, April 29, Bellingham (3:30 p.m.)

Monday, May 2, Coupeville*

* Home match. All matches at 3:45 p.m. unless noted.

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