Everyone knows there is strength in numbers. Here’s a few for you: 20-0.
That’s the combined win-loss record of the Ferris boys and girls tennis teams during the regular season, earning both Saxons squads a second consecutive Greater Spokane League title.
“One of the things you always want to do is make your program the best in the state,” veteran boys coach Brian Sachse said. “We feel like winning a league title back to back is a big part of trying to achieve that.”
There are many similarities and a few important differences in the reasons behind the success of both Saxons teams.
Most notably, both squads have a high number of club tennis players. Sachse said eight of his top 10 boys on the team play at Spokane Racquet Club or the Spokane Club and girls coach Mike McLauchlin estimates seven of his top 11 play at a club.
“If they are playing year-round it definitely makes for a stronger team, and we are certainly fortunate in that aspect,” McLauchlin said.
Sachse and McLauchlin are also fortunate to have two of the top singles players in the league – both juniors – in Whitman Hough and Katie Griffith.
Hough, a self-described “court rat,” won the No. 1 boys singles title at the Inland Empire Tournament last weekend and didn’t drop a set in the GSL. He’s been playing tennis since he was 5, and has a real shot of going deep in this year’s State 4A tournament.
Sachse is most impressed with Hough’s attitude.
“If I could have a son like Whitman, I would. He’s the nicest kid on the team,” Sachse said. “Along with that he loves tennis, he loves to teach the rest of team what he knows about the game and the guys really follow him. He’s a leader for us.”
Griffith, the top singles player on the girls team and in the league, was 8-1 during the regular season. Her only loss was to Mead’s Katrina Schwab and her biggest win was a three-set victory over Lewis and Clark rival Elise Otto.
But the main difference – one that affects McLauchlin – is the high number of seniors in the girls lineup. For now, McLauchlin is enjoying what he calls “the best team in his 10 years of coaching” while it lasts. Nine of his varsity players are seniors. That includes the top doubles teams of Michelle and Christy Curtis and McLauchlin’s daughter – Kelsey – and her partner Christina Berg. His third doubles team, Ashley Gardella and Kali Kuntz, was undefeated in league play.
“Our strength is our doubles and with Katie as our No. 1 it makes us pretty complete as a team,” McLauchlin said. “Our role players have stepped in and done a great job. In my experience, anytime you repeat as champions, it’s because of a lot of experience and a little bit of luck.”
On the boys’ side, Sachse will lose team captain and top doubles player John Cadagan among his three seniors, making next year’s outlook a positive one.
“This is a group of young men that are committed to each other and wanting to win,” Sachse said. “Our depth is throughout the singles lineup all the way down to No. 4 and some formidable doubles teams.”
Junior Kevin Satre, Cadagan’s partner, will be back next year along with Ryan Scout and Connor Roberts. No. 2 singles players Collin Siok, also a junior, was a solid player for the Saxons, losing one league match.
“It’s been fun,” Hough said. “We’re really deep this year and we hope to keep winning at districts and regionals.”
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