Mary Zisette, above, teamed with Alison Papritz to finish second in the state in 1A doubles in 2018. (File photo)

Mary Zisette, above, teamed with Alison Papritz to finish second in the state in 1A doubles in 2018. (File photo)

Spring prep preview / Tennis

With most of its crew back, the South Whidbey High School tennis team is in line to duplicate last spring’s outstanding season.

The Falcons finished third in the state after winning the Cascade Conference championship.

Returning for the Falcons are Mary Zisette and Alison Papritz, who finished second in the state in doubles in 2018, Erin Brewer, Farriss Jokinen, Ainsley Nelson, Elizabeth Simmons, McKenna Kelley, Jenna Pfeiffer, Ashley Ricketts and Oliana Stange.

Besides its experience, the team’s strengths, according to coach Karyle Kramer, are its size (a whopping 47 athletes) and chemistry.

“For a team this large, they get along very well,” Kramer said. “Our leaders are somewhat on the quiet side this year, but they are welcoming, encouraging and supportive. Younger players know they are an important part of the program; we try to balance improving our tennis games with having a lot of fun. We laugh a lot.”

For Kramer, the team goals go beyond the win column.

She wants her players to improve their game while improving their off-court life skills: setting goals; determining level of commitment; enjoying being part of a team; and learning to deal with setbacks, stress and success.

“There are so many good lessons learned through tennis,” Kramer said. “Our goal as coaches is to provide guidance, support and direction.”

“If most of our players improve their tennis games, improve their understanding of themselves and take away some positive experiences and lessons from the season, then it will have been a successful season,” she added.

Kramer is returning to the helm after taking a break last spring when her assistants Jenny Gochanour and Bess Windecker-Nelson co-coached the team. Rachael Clements is serving as a student assistant.

“The coaching support staff is incredible, again, and it is their extra contributions that make 47 players possible,” Kramer said.

South Whidbey (10-2 last year) travels to Oak Harbor for the opener at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 12. The first home match is 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26, with Friday Harbor.