As it has repeatedly for the past two months, rain forced the South Whidbey’s girls tennis team indoors on Monday.
But, it being the final regular practice of the season, the team decided to change things up a bit. Instead of setting up picket ball nets and using hard foam balls to volley, or head coach Karyle Kramer’s classroom to strategize, they opted for some fun. They put on rhythm game series “Just Dance” using a projector, and then lined up in rows of 10 to 12 girls — there’s about 40 girls on the team. They spent the next 30 minutes loosening up and enjoying themselves before the courts dried enough to allow for serves. Serves are the only things the girls can practice when the courts are somewhat slippery, Kramer said.
Players and coaches said it has been far from a cooperative spring in terms of weather. On an average week, South Whidbey practices one to two times outdoors, while the other days are either spent inside because of the rain, or playing on indoor courts in away matches. The Falcons were able to increase that to four days out on the courts this past week, but players said it was a rare occurrence.
“You don’t get the same feel when you’re crammed inside,” senior Bayley Gochanour said.
Senior Alex Foode said the biggest difference has been the exposure of their strengths and weaknesses.
“We’ve had to really learn what we’re doing wrong more than we would in a normal season where we’re outside and able to see what we’re doing wrong and what we’re doing well,” Foode said. “I guess matches are almost like practice in a way, just because we haven’t had as much practice outside.”
Ultimately, Kramer sees it simply as another challenge to overcome.
“All the coaches are feeling the effects and all the sports are feeling the effects of this rainy season,” Kramer said. “Yes, our time has been more limited this season compared to others, but so have the players that we’re playing against. I don’t think of it as such a disadvantage. It’s just different.”
South Whidbey, the returning district champions, is 6-3 overall. The Falcons have played only two home matches this season. Luck was not on their side when two matches against Bear Creek and Coupeville were cancelled due to rain in mid-April.
Gochanour, who is a part of the Falcons’ top doubles team with sophomore Mary Zisette, hopes to return to the bi-district tournament, the state qualifier, for the fourth year in a row. The Falcons’ bi-district, which includes the Cascade Conference and teams from the Emerald City League, is considered the toughest in the state and has produced a majority of the state champions and placers over the past few years.
“It’s a really good experience to get there, but ideally I’d like to make it to state,” Gochanour said. “It’s very challenging.”
Foode is South Whidbey’s top singles player. The fourth-year player has never reached the bi-district tournament, but she hopes to change that later this month.
Today’s match against King’s at 4 p.m. is a preview of what’s to come in the Class 1A District 1 Tournament. South Whidbey and King’s are the tournament’s only competitors. Not surprisingly, the forecast predicts a chance of precipitation.