Sports

Abundance of seniors propel Falcon boys tennis to prominence

South Whidbey went from zero seniors last season to an embarrassment of riches with nine this year. From left are Mitchell Hughes, Guy Sparkman, Chase Collins, Adam Baesler, Kyle Simchuk, Cameron Baldwin, Taylor Simmons and Sam Turpin. Not pictured is senior Connor McCauley.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
South Whidbey went from zero seniors last season to an embarrassment of riches with nine this year. From left are Mitchell Hughes, Guy Sparkman, Chase Collins, Adam Baesler, Kyle Simchuk, Cameron Baldwin, Taylor Simmons and Sam Turpin. Not pictured is senior Connor McCauley.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Senior moments: Falcons balloon from zero to nine seniors

Tennis was a young man’s game at South Whidbey High School last season.

There weren’t any seniors on the Falcon boys tennis team. This past season, that changed.

South Whidbey boasted a roster full of seniors, including a handful who were multi-year lettermen. Their ranks were bolstered by a few first-year additions, players who had not participated in team tennis. It helped the Falcons to a 6-6 overall record and a deep playoff run in the district tournaments.

What was your best match?

Connor McCauley: My best match was the last match of the season against Bellingham. I was partnered up with Sam Turpin and we knew the other team was really good so we decided to just have fun with it. We stopped focusing on form and everything and we just had fun. We ended up winning the match and it was a great experience!

Stryder Elverum: I don’t remember my best match.

Taylor Simmons: My best match probably was in district against Coupeville’s No. 2 doubles team. Me and Jonathan (Peterson) had gotten down in the first set and were both not playing well at all. We were able to step aside, regain our focus and start a comeback. We ended up winning the match 7-5, 6-0. We needed to win that match in order to go to the quad-district tournament and we both stepped up.

Mitchell Hughes: My best match was the match at district against Coupeville. Me and Charlie played very well together and we beat their No. 1 and No. 2 singles players.

Cameron Baldwin: My best match was against Coupeville playing second varsity singles. I believe it was my best match because I felt like I played a really fun and difficult match.

Kyle Simchuk: The best match of my tennis career was unfortunately my last. I played with Mitchell Hughes, it was a great game to end on.

Chase Collins: I’d say the best match was definitely the second to last. I wasn’t expecting a really fun match with Campbell Albertson, but it turned out being lots of fun, and we hit some great shots. We also got to hear Sam and Connor playing on the court next to us, which was great. My serve was pretty good that day too, and it’s a good day when the serve goes in.

Adam Baesler: My best match was my final match because I got to play doubles with my little brother Jake Baesler. It was an intense match against Bellingham, but we stepped up our game and played well together to win.

Sam Turpin: The last one of my career, I played with Connor McCauley and we slammed it.

Guy Sparkman: My best match would be against Grant Gibson at quad-district. It was my first round match. I lost the first set 4-6 but came back and won the next two sets 6-2, 6-1. It was a really good win for me.

Which match was the most memorable this season?

McCauley: The last match against Bellingham was also the most memorable.

Elverum: I don’t really remember the matches very much — sorry — so I guess none of them.

Simmons: The most memorable match for me would have to be my last match in a Falcon uniform. Despite being defeated, Jonathan and I were able to play extremely well and force a solid doubles team to three sets.

Hughes: The most memorable match was my first match at Anacortes because it was my first ever tennis match and Jack (Hood) and I won in a very close match!

Baldwin: The most memorable part for me was those moments when you know you just got a little bit better at something.

Simchuk: The most memorable match for me this season was when I got partnered up with Campbell “Soup” Albertsen. We were a great duo and defeated our Coupeville opponents.

Collins: The last Coupeville match.

Baesler: My last match with my brother was the most memorable because I got to play with my brother and we beat Bellingham, which was the toughest school we played.

Turpin: My most memorable was the last one I played with Connor. We both played excellent and had an extremely fun time doing it. It was exactly how I wanted to end my high school tennis career.

Sparkman: The first match of the season against Anacortes. We were tied up 3-3 against them. Mitchell and Jack Hood were partners and they played one of the greatest matches I’ve seen them play. Especially since it was Mitchell’s first match. They eventually won the third set sealing the varsity win.

In one word describe your style of play.

McCauley: Carefree.

Elverum: My playing is unenthusiastic.

Simmons: Hustle.

Hughes: My style of play would be constantly moving and not giving up on a play.

Simchuk: Fresh.

Collins: Spizzard. (Spin-Wizard).

Baesler: Concentrated.

Turpin: I am serve and volley, as little ground strokes as possible.

Sparkman: Smart.

Are you a singles or doubles player? Why?

McCauley: I’m a doubles player because I’m not good enough to play singles and I’m a good team player, I guess.

Elverum: Doubles. I played doubled because that’s what the coaches thought I would be best at and we also didn’t have very much room on the team since it was so packed and most people had to play doubles.

Simmons: At the beginning of the season I saw myself as a singles player, but once me and Jonathan began to get some chemistry on the court I knew I was meant to be a doubles player.

Hughes: I’m a doubles player because I play better with a teammate than I would by myself.

Baldwin: I personally am a singles player at heart.

Simchuk: I consider myself a doubles player. I have been all four years in high school and it’s where I am most comfortable.

Collins: I’m not really sure if I’m a singles or double player. I’m probably better at doubles, with the net play and stuff, but I really like singles, getting to run around more and having to really work hard.

Baesler: I am a doubles player because I enjoy having a partner to work together with and bond with. It also makes losing a little easier to handle and winning so much sweeter!

Turpin: I am a doubles player now. I used to be a singles player but I am a team sport kind of guy and I got lonely on the court without a friend.

Sparkman: Singles. But it doesn’t hurt to mix in doubles as well. Because I like to depend on myself.

During a rally, what are you thinking?

McCauley: I just hope I’m not the one to mess up.

Elverum: When I’m in a rally I’m think really hard about not messing up because I don’t want to screw something up for my teammate even though I know they usually won’t mind if I make a mistake.

Simmons: During a rally the only thing I’m thinking is, “Win.”

Hughes: During a rally, I think of my next shot that could win me and my teammate the point.

Baldwin: During a rally, I’m thinking about placing the tennis ball where my opponent is not.

Simchuk: During a rally, I typically am thinking abut my opponent’s next move, and, of course, where to position the ball.

Collins: I’m honestly not sure, I sort of halfway think about where I’m aiming it. At the same time though, you have to react quick and just go with what feels right. I hate when the other players get a lob at the net, since there’s no way I’m getting nailed, so I duck a lot.

Baesler: During a rally I am thinking about where I should be on the court. If I am positioned well, I have control of the court.

Turpin: It really depends. In singles I focus on not messing up. In doubles I focus on putting good pace on the ball and controlling the net.

Sparkman: I just think about what I’ve always been coached on. I always like to talk to myself and to remind myself of the fundamentals.

Who had the best serve? Forehand? Backhand? Lob? Volley? Overhead?

McCauley: Serve-Chase, when he got it in; forehand-Guy; backhand-Guy; lob-Jack; volley-Mitchell; overhead-Guy.

Elverum: I think that Sam had the best serve. Guy had the best forehand. I think Guy also had the best backhand. I think Taylor had the best overhead. And I think Mitchell had the best volley.

Simmons: Serve-Charley Stelling. He has a special serve that he uses on occasion which is unlike any serve I have ever seen. Forehand-Guy Sparkman. Consistent and tough to beat. Nobody on our team would beat Guy in a baseline rally. Backhand-Guy Sparkman yet again. Lob-sophmores Beau Blakey and Nathan Riley. The two of them would have “lob sessions” every day before practice. Volley-Mitchell Hughes. His quickness and athleticism makes it hard to get a shot by him. Overhead-Mitchell Hughes. If the ball is lobbed anywhere near the net the play is over. He always put the ball away with power and accuracy.

Hughes: The best serve would definitely go to Chase Collins! The best forehand and backhand would have to go to Guy Sparkman. The best lob was Charley Stelling.

Baldwin: The best serve and backhand goes to Guy Sparkman, while the best lob forehand was Charley Stelling. Volleys and overheads go all to Mitchell Hughes, while I think that I have the best lob.

Simchuk: Guy really had the best serves, and volleys, his practice on and off the court really showed.

Collins: Personally, I was a big fan of my spin serve, but I’m not sure it matches Charles’s backwards spin serve. Mitchell’s smash/overhead/leaping-save-thing was pretty impressive. He’s got hops.

Baesler: Serve-Guy Sparkman; forehand-Charley Stelling; backhand-Mitchell Hughes; lob-Nathan Riley; volley-Charley Stelling; and overhead-Guy Sparkman.

Turpin: Best serve-Chase Collins; the most spin I have ever seen on a ball before, it was a pleasure to return the other teams’ attempts to touch his serve. They never got a clean shot back. Backhand and forehand-Guy sparkman had the best groundstrokes for sure. Always consistent and pinpoint accurate. Lob-Cameron Baldwin, such a high lob it was always very awkward to return. Volley-Mitchell Hughes; quickest hands on the team. Best at the net. Overhead-Charley Stelling, that kid wails on his overheads and keeps them in and accurate. It was terrifying to mess a lob up when you played him.

Sparkman: Charley Stelling and Chase Collins tie for craziest serve. Mitchell, Taylor and Kyle are the three biggest kids on the team. It’s definitely tough to lob those guys cause their volleys and overheads are so strong!

Who was the funniest teammate?

McCauley: Campbell because he acted like such a little kid.

Elverum: I think Chase or Austin Heston was the funniest teammate.

Simmons: The entire senior class, I cannot just choose one guy. We all have a great sense of humor and our time together was definitely filled with a lot of laughter.

Hughes: The funniest teammate was Sam Turpin! We had a lot of good laughs.

Baldwin: The funniest was without a doubt Sam Turpin.

Simchuk: Austin Heston was by far the funniest teammate. Not only will most other guys on the team agree, but I’m sure Coupeville’s coach would concur, for reasons that must remain “off the record.”

Collins: I don’t think I could pick a funniest teammate, it’s actually just a great team. Somedays one persons crackin’ me up, and the next it’s another person. If someone were to do something like TP a bathroom though, I think they’d have a pretty good leg up on the funny award.

Baesler: The funniest teammate was Austin Heston.

Turpin: Chase Collins, hands down the most comical kid I have ever met. Everything that comes out of his mouth is clever, except when he is talking about Tim Tebow, then he just sounds passionate. I can’t go through a simple exchange of words with Chase and not laugh.

Sparkman: I’d like to give some shout outs to some of the funniest underclassmen: Jake Papritz, Jacob Nelson, Austin Heston, and John Cary. Those are some funny kids, but everyone on the team all have a certain trait to them that makes them really funny and enjoyable to be with.

Who inspired the other guys?

McCauley: Guy because he was so good.

Elverum: The guy who inspired us guys the most was Guy.

Simmons: We were able to lift each other up and support one another, cheering each other on. Even though tennis is mostly an individual sport, we played as a team.

Hughes: And the guy that inspired the team would have to be Taylor Simmons.

Baldwin: I think Chase Collins was most inspiring for the other player’s, especially when it came to the younger grades.

Simchuk: The most inspirational member of our team was Chase Collins. He showed us all the spiritual side to the game. I will never forget his uplifting quote he ended the season on, saying, “No matter how good we get, we will never be as good as the wall.”

Collins: I’m not sure about everyone else, but I was really driven to work hard more by the fact that there were nine seniors competing for six varsity spots, than any one person. Loel Nichols though was great at supporting, and would actually sit behind the courts while we would play, even if the JV didn’t have to get there for another hour and a half. Probably the only person I’ve had a conversation with during a tennis match from the other side of the fence.

Baesler: Guy inspired the other guys because he included everyone as his friend, even the kids he couldn’t stand.

Turpin: Mitchell Hughes, the kid has never played tennis before this year and he put in time over the summer and became a great player. He learns fast and has a great feel for the game. I loved watching him play this year.

Sparkman: I believe everyone is inspired by each other. I know that there are many upperclassmen that were inspired by the underclassmen and vice versa.

Which match was the most memorable this season?

McCauley: The last match against Bellingham was also the most memorable.

Elverum: I don’t really remember the matches very much — sorry — so I guess none of them.

Simmons: The most memorable match for me would have to be my last match in a Falcon uniform. Despite being defeated, Jonathan and I were able to play extremely well and force a solid doubles team to three sets.

Hughes: The most memorable match was my first match at Anacortes because it was my first ever tennis match and Jack (Hood) and I won in a very close match!

Baldwin: The most memorable part for me was those moments when you know you just got a little bit better at something.

Simchuk: The most memorable match for me this season was when I got partnered up with Campbell “Soup” Albertsen. We were a great duo and defeated our Coupeville opponents.

Collins: The last Coupeville match. We licked a lot of elbows, including both of one persons, and along with a little fiasco on the campus, just had a great time. We did come across one question though; how wet?

Baesler: My last match with my brother was the most memorable because I got to play with my brother and we beat Bellingham, which was the toughest school we played.

Turpin: My most memorable was the last one I played with Connor. We both played excellent and had an extremely fun time doing it. It was exactly how I wanted to end my high school tennis career.

Sparkman: The first match of the season against Anacortes. We were tied up 3-3 against them. Mitchell and Jack Hood were partners and they played one of the greatest matches I’ve seen them play. Especially since it was Mitchell’s first match. They eventually won the third set sealing the varsity win.

 

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