Stephanie Buckingham has place seventh the last two years at the 3A state tennis championships. This year, it was time for an upgrade.
The Kennewick senior placed fifth with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win Saturday over Lina Larson of Interlake at Tri-City Court Club.
“She was steady. No matter I did, she would figure out something to throw back at me,” Buckingham said. “I had to change my strategy to win points.”
Larson opened the match with a 3-6 win, but Buckingham won the final two sets to give her medals four years in a row. She placed eighth as a freshman.
“It was a long match, but it was worth it,” said Buckingham, who will play at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston next season. “I have played against some of these girls in USTA. They are tough and you know what you are getting.”
Also picking up a fifth-place medal was the Southridge doubles team of Sofia Morrison and Bailee Sanderson.
Morrison and Sanderson teamed up as freshmen and placed seventh. The last two seasons, Morrison played with Sarah Morgan, finishing fifth and third. When Morgan graduated, Sanderson and Morrison united once again.
They dropped their first match Friday, but won their next three for fifth, beating Ainsley Winterrowd and Sidney Smith of North Thurston 7-6, 6-0 on Saturday morning at Kamiakin High School.
“It was my last high school match and my goal was to have fun and leave it all out on the court,” Morrison said. “The first set was more nerve wracking, but after that, we relaxed and stepped it up.”
For Sanderson, it was a perfect ending to her senior season.
“It was a great finish with one of my best friends,” Sanderson said. “It will be hard not to see her every day. We will be six hours apart.”
Morrison is headed to University of Washington for the pre-med program, while Sanderson, who wants to go to dental school, will go to Whitworth, where she plans to walk on to the tennis team.
The Kennewick boys doubles team of Chad McKenzie and Jared Bolt staved of two loser-out games Friday to reach the fifth-eighth place match Saturday morning against Peter Williams and Rafa Gonzalez-Posada of Mercer Island.
The Lions duo fell 6-4, 6-1 to finish eighth, but it was the first time either had won state medal. Both went 0-2 last year in singles.
In the 2A girls state tournament at the Nordstrom Tennis Center in Seattle, Prosser’s Daphne Reilly finished seventh, losing in straight sets to Lindbergh’s Liezel Villanueva. Scores for the match were not available.