This has been a bizarre, reflective spring for Darcy Ruemping.
When she assesses the young tennis talent in the Greater Spokane League, she can’t help but see herself two or three years ago.
At Gonzaga Prep, for example, freshman Lisa VanGemert is a strong candidate for No. 1 singles. Ruemping has played VanGemert at clinics, and she knows people view her as an up-and-comer.
Yet it’s difficult for Ruemping to consider VanGemert (“It feels like she’s been in junior high for eight years”) without experiencing a flashback.
“That reminds me of me as a frosh,” said Ruemping, a Ferris senior. “I swear people think I’ve been in high school for 10 years.”
At Central Valley, sophomore Aaryn Volkmann has stepped right into the No. 1 singles spot. Ruemping laughs about her introduction to Volkmann.
“I just got a call from this girl who said, ‘Hi, my name’s Aaryn. Do you want to play tennis?”’ Ruemping said. “I thought it was somebody joking with me.”
The caller then mentioned the surname “Volkmann,” and Ruemping remembered her as another hotshot young player whose name has made the rounds.
Always looking for a challenge, Ruemping agreed to become Volkmann’s practice partner.
Pure partnership, however, is something Ruemping has abandoned this spring. After three seasons of playing at the State AAA tournament with doubles partner K.C. Richards, Ruemping has shifted to singles.
Richards, Ruemping’s good friend, graduated from Ferris in 1996 and attends the University of Washington. Ruemping didn’t believe she could recapture the magic with anyone else.
“When you play doubles you have to have the same style,” Ruemping said. “The chemistry has to be there.”
Richards-Ruemping finished second at state in 1995. Ruemping considered a move to singles in ‘96, but said she and Richards had “unfinished business”. They placed fourth last year.
Ruemping’s Saxons are set to begin defense of their GSL title Tuesday against Shadle Park. Ferris, with a streak of 32 consecutive wins, hasn’t lost a league match since Ruemping’s eighth-grade year.
Ruemping said sophomore Megan McKitterick, the Saxons’ No. 2 singles player, would be No. 1 at any other school. Before a non-league encounter with Mead, McKitterick and Ruemping flipped a coin to see who would play No. 1 because they hadn’t had a challenge match.
McKitterick won the flip. Ruemping was upset because she wanted to play another young star, sophomore Lindsey Wagstaff, daughter of veteran Mead boys coach Bill Wagstaff. Yet Wagstaff played No. 2 doubles that day.
When Ferris met Wenatchee, Ruemping was set to play No. 1 but had the match defaulted to her. Through April 3, her lone competition came against Lewis and Clark senior Anna Adolphson, one of the GSL’s top returners. Ruemping won 6-0, 6-0.
“Actually, that doesn’t reflect how the match was,” Ruemping said. “I think 75 percent of the games went to deuce.”
Ruemping hopes to join Richards at UW but said the school’s academics are a bigger drawing card than the friendship with her former doubles partner. Ruemping has a 4.0 grade-point average.
In GSL boys tennis, Mead and LC are expected to jockey for the title Mead has won outright or shared the last four years.
Mead beat LC 4-3 in a non-leaguer March 27. At No. 1, Mead’s Ryan Moran outlasted Spencer Piston 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in a meeting between the league’s probable elite.
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