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Newman stopped short of top-eight tennis finish
A second-set rally fell short of a top-eight finish for South Whidbey tennis player Hayley Newman.
Newman was the sole representative from South Whidbey at the state 2A girls singles tennis tournament, held at the University of Washington Nordstrom Tennis Center. The Falcon junior was dropped to the consolation bracket after a 6-0, 6-1 loss in the first round May 25 against Julie Hansen from Black Hills High School. Nervousness took its toll, Falcon head coach Karyle Kramer said, and Hansen controlled the match from the first serve.
“She was nervous the entire match,” said Kramer of Newman. “Part of that was because Hansen was so strong that she didn’t allow Hayley to get in her groove or to get a game in the first set.”
“Hayley is not used to losing the first set 6-0.”
Newman quickly rebounded for the second match Friday afternoon. In the consolation bracket match against Ellensburg’s Nathalie Gruber, Newman returned to form and knocked off Gruber 6-1, 6-0.
“Hayley was definitely the stronger player and went out there and took care of business,” Kramer said.
Having survived the first day, Newman advanced to Saturday’s round. She faced Michelle Chiou, a junior from Hockinson High School, in the third round.
Prior to the match, Kramer and Newman worked on strategy for the contest. The plan was for Newman to play from the baseline and rely on her groundstrokes there. When a weak ball came back, she tried to send it to the corners and move Chiou from sideline to sideline. That plan worked about half the time, and not until after Chiou won the first set 6-2.
“Hayley executed our game plan half way,” Kramer said. “She came half way to the net to finish points. She stayed at the service line and hit defensive volleys, which got her in trouble.”
A bit frazzled, Newman recovered to take the second set 6-3. Kramer’s strategy worked better in the second set, as Newman followed through to the net, which challenged Chiou to hit either over or around Newman, who’s 5 feet, 10 inches tall.
“She increased her consistency from the baseline, she got smarter with her shot selection and decision-making on when to approach the net and finish the point,” Kramer said.
With both players even in the set score with one a piece, the third set determined the victor. Newman trailed 4-3 when she won a tying game 40-0. However, Chiou wracked up the next two games to win 6-4 in one of only three full set matches and advance to finish in fifth place.
“She put it on the line, which was the hardest thing for her to do,” Kramer said. “What more could she ask? What more could I ask? It was the gutsiest tennis I’ve ever seen Hayley play.”
South Whidbey will be a 1A school next year, and will no longer compete at the state 2A tournaments, making Saturday’s match the last in 2A competition. Other competitors from District 1, which South Whidbey’s conference (Cascade Conference) is part of along with the Northwest Conference, finished in second and third place. Anna Lefebvre, the district singles champion from Burlington-Edison, lost in two sets to Hansen. Bella Hoyos from Bellingham High School won in straight sets against Hansen to finish in third place.
Ben Watanabe can be reached at email@example.com.