Sunnyside High School girls tennis coach Troy Whittle said this year's Lady Grizzlies have been one of his most enjoyable groups to coach ever. And the Lady Grizzlies gave their coach one more reason to cheer this past Tuesday afternoon.
The team of Lanna Pangle and Jerika Martinez rallied in their No. 3 doubles match to give the Lady Grizzlies a 3-2 team victory over visiting Wapato.
The win moved the Lady Grizzlies to 4-7 in league play (4-8 overall) heading into this afternoon's home match with Hanford. Whittle said five of his team's losses have been by 3-2 scores.
"The future of our girls program is pretty bright," said Whittle.
Martinez and Pangle beat Wapato's Amy Knight and Stephanie Salinas 2-6, 6-1, 7-5. The last set was played in a tiebreaker format because of the severe wind conditions, which were getting worse, said Whittle.
Whittle didn't fret much after his No. 3 doubles team lost the first set. Whittle said he could see the simple mistakes Pangle and Martinez were making. The major problem for the Lady Grizzly duo was poor court positioning. Whittle said Wapato's players kept hitting the ball right at the feet of his two players in the first set. Also in the first set, Pangle and Martinez tried to lob the ball too much in the windy conditions. After telling his two players what to do in the second set, Whittle saw a dramatic improvement.
"It was like night and day," said Whittle.
In the last set, Pangle and Martinez were down 4-0 before coming back to take the match 7-5. Whittle said Martinez had some monster backhands her Wapato opponents couldn't handle. Pangle and Martinez are 3-0 as a team.
Sunnyside's two other doubles teams also pulled out wins.
Dolores Gomez and Andrea Phillips had a relatively easy time with Wapato's Ann Marie Anderson and Nicole Marler, winning 6-3, 6-1. Whittle said his top doubles team looked a lot more confident than the two have been in recent weeks.
Confidence hasn't been a problem for Sunnyside's No. 2 doubles team of Lizeth Chiprez and Erica Mendez. The Lady Grizzly duo improved to 5-1 on the season with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Krista Fransico and Damarise Navarro.
"They clearly were the better team," said Whittle of his group. "They hit the ball with such good control."
Sunnyside's Wendy Chiprez saw her first competitive action of the year on Tuesday. Chiprez broke her ankle prior to the start of the season. Playing No. 1 singles, Chiprez lost 6-2, 6-0 to Wapato's Crystal Burns, one of the better players in the Mid-Valley League. Whittle said he was pleased with Chiprez, who was playing her first competitive match ever. He said her ground strokes and net play were what stood out.
Deann Trautman lost to Wapato's Marilu Cruz at No. 2 singles 6-3, 6-0. Trautman was up 3-0 in the first set before relinquishing 12 straight points. Whittle said Trautman went into a defensive mode and never came back out, which cost her the match.
. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at email@example.com