It’s time to get tennis serious.
The progression is as regular as clockwork: The Inland Empire Tournament on the final weekend in April, followed by the last few league meets and postseason play.
Easily the top boy singles player in the area, Gonzaga Prep’s Alex Marcinkowski, enters the final IE tournament of his stellar high school career as the No. 1 seed – and as the only Class 4A player to earn a seed.
West Valley-Yakima’s Daniel Foster, who was runner-up in the early season Coke Classic tournament in Yakima, is seeded No. 2, with a pair of Class 2A players seeded third and fourth: Hunter Sears of Ephrata followed by Ryan Adams of Clarkston fourth.
The Lewis and Clark boys have the No. 2-seeded No. 1 doubles team and the No. 1-seeded No. 2 doubles team. Luke Britton and Jordan Strandness entered Friday’s play seeded behind Travis Zuroski and Zach Fisher of Richland in No. 1 doubles. Kenny Woodhead and Jacob Larson drew the top-seed in No. 2 doubles, with Gonzaga Prep’s Kevin Murphy and John Mackay seeded third.
Defending girls No. 1 singles champion Sierra Troxel of Hanford returns to defend her title. Pullman’s Stephanie Her earned the No. 3 seed and Lind-Ritzville-Sprague’s Tracy Melville the No. 4.
Back for a run at a third straight No. 1 girls doubles title, Erica and Megumi Dumond of Yakima’s Davis, return.
No team has dominated the tournament since 2000 more than Richland. The Bombers have won half of the previous 12 team championships and their neighbor, Hanford, is this year’s defending champion after the Falcons won their first IE title a year ago.
While the complete history of the tournament has several blanks in it over the first 67 years, schools from the old Big Nine Conference have dominated the team championships.
That collection of schools has captured or shared in 33 overall IE team titles.
Yakima’s Eisenhower has the most team titles with 10, including four straight from 1989 through 1992, and nine of the 11 championships between 1982 and 1992.
Kamiakin also won four consecutive team titles – from 1997 through 2000.
With eight team titles, Wenatchee has the second-most total team titles.
Of the 25 championships won by teams from the Greater Spokane League, Ferris has won the most with seven. Lewis and Clark owns five titles – the first coming in 1949 and the last in 1994. Rogers also owns five team championships, all won in the 1950s.
Small area schools have won team titles over the years. Great Northern League teams Cheney (1981) and Pullman (1974) are past winners. Pateros was part of a five-way split for the title in 1974, and Omak (1946), Cashmere (1967) and Odessa (1954) are past champions.
Pullman’s GNL win over Clarkston last week was the first time in coach Geoffrey Pearson’s seven seasons as the Greyhounds’ coach.
“They have always been our measuring stick, and while we’ve been close, we’ve always come up a little short,” he said. “I was really proud of the effort our boys gave today – we had several opportunities to fold after losing the first set, but our kids battled back and pulled out three three-set wins.”