South Whidbey’s boys tennis team split a pair of matches with Seattle-area schools this week. The Falcons defeated Seattle Academy on Tuesday, 3-2, then lost to Overlake 2-3 on Wednesday in a makeup match.
“We are at a good point in the season,” said Falcon head coach Karyle Kramer. “Players are rising to the top of their games, showing good focus in practice and in match play. They are differentiating themselves through improved play and strategy.”
Against Seattle Academy, South Whidbey (6-5 overall) swept its two singles contests and won third doubles. Falcon senior Guy Sparkman defeated Jesse Rose-Marques 6-0, 6-1 at the first singles position. Falcon sophomore Jack Hood beat Julian Hayes 6-1, 6-3 in second singles.
Seattle Academy rallied in doubles, claiming the first and second doubles matches. Zamir Birnbach and Richard Khang beat Falcon senior Taylor Simmons and sophomore Jonathon Peterson 6-3, 6-3. In second doubles, Max Schoenfeld and Connor Rice dropped Falcon senior Cameron Baldwin and sophomore Charley Stelling 6-2, 6-2.
South Whidbey’s experience and athleticism shined in the third doubles match. Falcon seniors Kyle Simchuk and Mitchell Hughes teamed up for a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Eli Etzioni and George Campbell at Volunteer Park in Seattle.
South Whidbey’s future looks bright, too. Falcon doubles teams Nathan Riley and Chase Collins, Beau Blakey and Campbell Albertson and Jacob Nelson and Austin Drake won all three junior varsity matches, played in eight-game single sets.
South Whidbey lost to Overlake for the second time this season. Unlike last time, however, the Falcons avoided being swept by the Owls in a 3-2 loss.
Part of the change was Sparkman winning a tiebreaker match against Grant Gibson. The Falcon senior won 6-7 (7-9), 6-3, 10-8. Gibson won their prior meeting, also a three-set tiebreaker. Sparkman led in the first set, but began playing points safely and tightened up, letting Gibson back into the set.
During the set break, Sparkman told Kramer he knew what was needed to win. Then he showed her. Sparkman cruised in the second set to a 6-3 win to force a third set tiebreaker; the first player to score 10 points wins. Gibson led 7-3 before Sparkman rallied for the 10-8 victory.
“More than anything, Guy proved to himself that he could come through under pressure,” Kramer said.
The Falcons claimed only one more match against the Owls. Stelling beat Tony Lee, 6-1, 6-4, in the second singles match.
South Whidbey’s three doubles teams all lost to Overlake. Keshaw Ummat and Ethan Hayden defeated Baldwin and Hughes, 6-2, 6-1; Preston Ballout and Andrew Gavrila beat Simmons and Peterson, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1; and Rob Neir and Mac Hewitt defeated Hood and Simchuk, 6-0, 6-2.
Tri-district playoffs begin Wednesday, Oct. 24 at the Amy Yee Tennis Center in Seattle. South Whidbey will send two singles players and two doubles teams to the tournament.
“At this point, it comes down to confidence and experience — two aspects of the game that often are fueled by playing in the offseason,” Kramer said.
South Whidbey finished its regular season Friday against Bellingham.