Tennis: Southridge in search of another district title

May 15, 2014 

The Southridge doubles teams of Shyler Sullivan (left) and Emily Koehler, and Bailee Sanderson and Sofia Morrison look to lead the Suns to their third consecutive 3A district title.

ANNIE FOWLER

The Southridge girls tennis team has been a bit stingy as of late.

The Suns wrapped up their fourth consecutive league title with a victory over Hanford on Monday and will go after their third consecutive Class 3A district title this weekend.

Led by the senior doubles team of Sofia Morrison and Bailee Sanderson, the Suns have the top two ranked teams entering Saturday’s first round of action at Southridge High School.

Action gets underway at 10 a.m. The boys singles and doubles matches will be played at Kamiakin High School, also starting at 10 a.m. The girls and boys finals and playback matches for the third seed to regionals are Monday at Southridge.

Morrison and Sanderson played singles all season for the Suns, teaming up just once to win the Inland Empire No. 1 doubles title last month.

But they are no strangers when it comes to sharing the court. They played doubles together as freshmen, placing seventh at state. The next two years, Morrison played doubles with Sarah Morgan, placing fifth at state in 2012 and third in 2013.

“It was a little weird,” Sanderson said of losing Morrison as a partner for two years. “It gave me a chance to play with other people and her a chance to do better at state.”

Sanderson, who was 7-1 while playing No. 2 singles this season, said she and Morrison complement each other on the court.

“We have our strengths as singles players, but we work so well together,” Sanderson said. “I’m better along the baseline and she’s better at the net.”

Morrison, whose only league loss in singles this year was to Kennewick’s Stephanie Buckingham, has high hopes for herself and Sanderson.

“There’s not a lot of pressure, but a standard has been set and I’m just trying to meet it."

A fourth trip to state would make Morrison one of the most decorated tennis players in school history.

“This is fun,” Morrison. “I just try to enjoy every day. This is such a great program. I have had an incredible four seasons.”

While Morrison and Sanderson are the backbone of the Suns, the doubles team of junior Emily Koehler and sophomore Shyler Sullivan have done their part to keep their team on top.

The duo was undefeated at 8-0 in Mid-Columbia Conference play this season. They are seeded second in the doubles bracket this weekend behind their teammates and could face them in the finals.

“We have never played them in a real match,” Koehler said. “But we probably will this weekend. That will be weird. It’s hard to play our own teammates.”

Koehler played singles last year but came up short of placing, running across Bucking-ham and Hanford’s Sierra Troxel, who won the district title.

“I like doubles better than singles,” Koehler said. “Shyler is more of a net player and I’m on the baseline. She is more powerful and has a really good serve, and I’m more consistent. I’m pretty excited. I think we have a really good chance to do well.”

Sullivan played doubles with Sanderson last year, placing seventh at state and helping the Suns to a third-place finish in the team race.

“I really like doubles,” Sullivan said. “You have a partner to encourage you and you don’t have time to dwell on things. This is a great team to be on. Sofia and Bailee have been really helpful.”

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