Surge in numbers prompts addition of third coach | FALCON SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW

Brea Gauger tracks a shot for a backhand volley at the net during practice.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Brea Gauger tracks a shot for a backhand volley at the net during practice.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Forty-two girls crowd the tennis courts at South Whidbey High School during a recent practice.

The sheer volume of the program led head coach Karyle Kramer, in her third season at the helm following her father and predecessors’ three decades in charge, to seek a third coach to help with the junior varsity team.

By the second week of the season, Kramer said she had yet to set apart the eight varsity players.

“I just see this pack every day and think how I’m going to separate this pack,” Kramer said.

“We really think of ourselves as one big team,” she added.

At the head of the group are the team’s top returners, Amelia Weeks and Tess Radisch. Last year, the duo was eliminated after the second round of the state 1A girls tennis tournament.

Whether or not she would play with Radisch again was uncertain, as Kramer is fond of rotating players between singles and doubles. But Weeks said her goal was to advance past the first day of the state tournament.

“I hope we do better than last year,” Weeks said.

“I enjoy doubles more, but doubles benefits singles, and singles benefits doubles,” she added.

In the offseason, Weeks regularly played tennis, at least two times per week in the month leading up to March.

Along with seven seniors, only one of whom is new to the team, Kramer said the girls tennis team is loaded with experience. Of the 42 girls, 20 are sophomores. One of the few drawbacks of having such a large team, said Kramer, is the lack of courts for matches and challenges to determine the varsity roster.

“We don’t have the time and the court space to constantly do challenges,” she said.

Last season, the Falcons won the 1A District 1 team title. Though it could be expected of the team to repeat, Kramer said she reminds her players that a championship will not be given to them.

“They know, like I know, that it’s a whole new year,” Kramer said.

One aspect of the team that has remained, said Weeks, was its cheerful, inclusive environment. That was also noticed by Kramer, who said she appreciated the seniors’ initiative to learn the younger girls’ names and interact with them rather than separating into a clique.

“This team has a really positive attitude,” Weeks said. “Even though sometimes a big team can split into new players and returning players, this is a welcoming team.”


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