Mead’s Bill Wagstaff waited 19 years to coach a boys tennis state finalist.
Senior Brett Kaiser and freshman Tory Gambill ended Wagstaff’s wait in a big way Saturday by winning the State AAA boys doubles championship.
The second-seeded Panthers powered past No. 1 Dalibor Snyder/Rickey Doyle of Mercer Island 6-4, 6-0 on the Yakima Tennis Club’s outdoor courts.
No Mead team, boys or girls, had played in a state final. Wagstaff said the Greater Spokane League’s last tennis champion was Gonzaga Prep’s Mary Reilly, in 1988.
“I was hoping we’d stay even with (Snyder/ Doyle) and make a sprint toward the end,” Wagstaff said. “It was like my guys couldn’t make a mistake.”
“It was our best match of the year,” said Kaiser of the final. “We both played really well. There have been times before when one of us played well, then the other.
“We stayed tough mentally. We were down 0-40, 15-40 in eight games. We kept coming back and that started to get to the other team.”
Unseeded Josh Dyck/Nick Mays of Ferris placed fourth.
Kaiser/Gambill trailed Snyder/Doyle 1-0 in the first set and appeared to be on shaky ground. Kaiser double-faulted to start the second game, but the team rallied from 0-40 to win.
Doyle couldn’t hold serve in the third game, and Mead seized the momentum. The Panthers advanced to the final by defeating another Mercer Island team, fourth-seeded Seth Greenberg/Jamee Wong, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, at the club’s indoor court.
Kaiser/Gambill hadn’t lost a set all year. They responded to the setback by breaking Greenberg/Wong twice for a 3-0 second-set lead. Kaiser had two consecutive aces for a 3-1 lead in the final set, and the Islanders double-faulted away the next game.
Kaiser/Gambill, coming off court after the semifinal win, were greeted by teammate Ryan Moran, crutches and all. Moran, seeded third in boys singles, injured his ankle during Friday’s quarterfinals but remained in town to cheer his friends.
Mercer Island scored 22 points to win the team title. Mead (10 points) placed second, its first state placing.
Dyck/Mays also began their day indoors, beating Wenatchee’s Reid Wiggins/Ryan Parsons 6-3, 6-7 (7-4), 6-4 in a consolation match. Wiggins/Parsons had defeated the Saxons at last weekend’s regional tourney.
Ferris let the second-set tiebreaker get away after leading 3-2. But Dyck/Mays moved on by breaking serve in the 10th game of the final set.
The match for fourth and sixth places, played in windy, cloudy conditions, was a rematch of Friday’s opener against No. 3 Adrian VanDooren/Nick Vickstrom of Bellarmine Prep. Ferris proved Friday’s victorious result was no fluke, winning 6-4, 6-4. Tied at 3 in the second set, Bellarmine Prep double-faulted at break point.
“My partner’s really funny about everyone we go against,” said Dyck, a senior. “Even if we were to play Sampras or Agassi, he’d say they (are lousy).”
“We started out slowly this season,” sophomore Mays said of three previous tourneys. “But we just kept progressing. We really came on strong.”