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Newman takes second in state 1A tennis title match
South Whidbey sent three players to the 1A state girls tennis tournament in Yakima.
Only one finished with a medal, and the other two made a second-round exit after two close matches.
Hayley Newman settled for second place after being quickly bounced in the championship match. Forest Ridge’s Michele Lui, who defeated Newman in the tri-district tournament, cruised with a 6-0, 6-0 victory.
“Me and my family and my coaches were joking around after the match saying none of us thought I’d crack top eight,” Newman said. “We played a bunch of private schools and club players who practice on covered courts.”
It was a disappointing end to a stellar season by Newman, a senior, who had not lost a match in the state tournament and rarely lost a match this season.
She won her first three matches in the state tournament, including a come-from-behind win in the second round. Newman opened the title run with a 6-2, 6-3 win over St. George’s Darby Pierce, 6-2, 6-3.
The second round proved more difficult. Facing Chelan’s Megan Robinson, Newman fell into a quick first-set hole and lost 2-6. She rebounded in the second set to win 6-4 and advanced in the winner’s bracket by taking the third set 6-3.
“I told her she just lost the first set playing the same way Robinson was: not to lose, just getting the ball back,” said Falcon head coach Karyle Kramer. “If Hayley wanted to win she needed to be more aggressive, turn it up a notch.”
With the first day’s matches over, Newman rested until Saturday for the semifinal round. Battling for a spot in the championship match, Newman faced Annie Wright Academy’s Samantha Weeks. They previously played each other the week before in the tri-district round, with Weeks sweeping Newman in straight sets. That made for a grudge match for Newman.
“I’ll admit, there was not a lot of hope Hayley could beat her,” Kramer said. “But there was some hope.”
Newman varied her usual baseline play with some approach shots and attacked Weeks’ backhand, surprising Weeks and her own coaches. Weeks led 4-3 in the first set, which Kramer said was visibly unnerving to the Annie Wright sophomore. Sensing her opportunity, Newman rattled off three games to lead 6-5. In the deciding 12th game, Newman and Weeks fought off 12 deuce points until Weeks won the game, forcing a tiebreaker.
Newman cruised in the tiebreaker, winning 7-1.
“That was crucial,” Kramer said. “If Weeks had won the tiebreaker after Hayley had 5-6 set points, that would have been devastating for Hayley mentally, but she kept it together.”
Newman breezed, relative to the previous set, in the second set to a 6-3 victory.
“That morning, we were having breakfast and I had to come to the realization she beat me just last week, 6-0, 6-0,” Newman said.
“It was a great feeling, knowing I placed in the top two, it was a perfect way to end the season and get revenge on her.”
In the championship match, Newman met Lui, who won the previous two state singles titles. Lui was the top seed from the tri-district region South Whidbey is from, and may have had a Tiger Woods-esque affect on her opponent, beating her mentally before ever swinging the racquet.
“This is her third straight state championship as a junior and truly is in a class of her own,” Kramer said. “However, Hayley had a bit of a mental letdown during the finals and didn’t put forth her best effort.”
Lui won without dropping a game, 6-0, 6-0.
South Whidbey’s top doubles team of Amelia Weeks and Tess Radisch lost two close matches and were eliminated on the first day. In the first round, they faced Lind-Ritzville-Sprague’s Kelly Melville and Alanna Wheeler who won 6-4, 7-5.
“We just had the case of first match nerves, and both players made mistakes they typically do not make,” Kramer said. “They were disappointed and frustrated, but that’s part of sports.”
The Falcon juniors tried to rebound in the consolation bracket, played in pro sets, against La Salle’s Jesica Busey and Olivia Martin. But South Whidbey’s best duo came up short again after leading 5-2, the La Salle tandem rallied to win 9-7.
“Although they were disappointed in their play, they realized that they could compete with teams at the state level,” Kramer said.
Newman will follow in her siblings’ footsteps by attending school at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon. Her sisters Caitie and Lindsey both played tennis there, as did her brother Riley. Lindsey attended Seattle University and played tennis for the Redhawks for two years, and Riley will also play tennis for the Redhawks this fall.