KENNEWICK - "A heartbreaking loss" is how Coach Troy Whittle described last Saturday's 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Kennewick Lions.
The Sunnyside boys tennis squad (0-3, 0-8) nearly upset the perennial powerhouse Lions, but came up just a hair short in registering its first victory of the season.
The Grizzlies went into the Columbia Basin League match without their No. 3 singles player, Jay Kim, "...and it really hurt us," said Whittle. "That being said, we still could have won the match," he added.
Saturday's match was squared at three-all, but the Grizzlies were poised to pull off the upset when Anthony Kim at No. 4 singles fought to a draw in the opening two sets against Kennewick's Eric Arnold. The Lion won the opener 6-2, only to watch as Kim battled back for a 6-3 victory in the second set.
"It came down to the third set," Whittle said of Arnold and Kim's match-up for all the marbles.
Kim went up by a 3-2 score in the final set, but according to Whittle the Grizzly hit the wall, energy-wise. Arnold rallied for a 6-4 win to give the Lions the team victory.
"He (Kim) battled hard and played a smart match to come back after losing the first set," said Whittle.
Sunnyside also lost a tight match at No. 2 doubles. The Grizzlies' Joey Zijlstra and Mike Martin lost a 7-5 squeaker in the opener, then fell by an even closer 7-6 (7-1) score in the second set to A.J. Rutz and Ryan Long.
The Kennewick boys' two other victories came from Nathan Franklin in No. 1 singles play, a 7-5, 6-1 winner over Matt Johnson; and from Carson Evans in No. 3 singles play, a 6-3, 6-0 winner over Randy DeRuyter.
The lone singles win for the Sunnyside boys was claimed by Jorge Pacheco. He defeated Kennewick's No. 2 singles player, Richard Wiltse, in three sets. Pacheco won the opener 6-4, fell to Wiltse in the second set by a 7-5 margin, then rallied over the Lion in the tiebreaker set, 7-5.
The Grizzlies' two doubles victories were chalked up the duos of Jonas Linde/Anthony Rodriguez and Daniel Wavrin/Spencer Jaquish.
Linde and Rodriguez, playing at No. 1 doubles, defeated Akshai Baskaran and Lo Ward in three sets-6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
Wavrin and Jaquish were victorious at No. 3 doubles, winning by a 4-6, 7-6 (12-10), 6-3 margin over Kennewick's Fransisco Villa and George McMillan.
"We battled hard against a traditional power and came up just a little short," Whittle said of his boys squad. "The good news is we took three out of the four matches that went three sets. That shows a lot about the kids' conditioning and how well they are listening to coaching."
On the girls side last Saturday, Kennewick prevailed over the Lady Grizzlies, 5-2.
Sunnyside's two wins came from the doubles squads of Regina Mendez/Madonna Gonzalez and Bo Kim/Avalon Valencia.
Mendez and Gonzalez, playing No. 1 doubles, defeated Kaley Dockum and Brooke Stauffer by scores of 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4.
Kim and Valencia, at No. 3 doubles, won in straight sets-6-4, 6-4-over Megan Sifon and Sirena Snyder.
"We mixed things around at doubles and took two of the three matches there," Whittle said.
"We are struggling at singles play this year but have developed some good play at doubles," Whittle said of his girls squad.
Whittle said he'll be moving more players around this week in an attempt to find some combinations that will work for District play.