Luke Thompson is a man of few words, but when he’s handing you a straight-set loss on the tennis court, there isn’t much to discuss.
The recent Hanford graduate, who suffered just one loss all season in singles, was named the Herald’s All-Area boys tennis player of the year for a third consecutive season.
“I had a great time playing high school tennis,” said Thompson, who will play next season at Eastern Washington University. “I think I will get way better when I get to college. In the Tri-Cities, there isn’t really anybody that is better than me, and it was hard for me to improve this year.”
Hanford dominated the all-area team this year, with Sierra Troxel named the girls player of the year and Bill Fletcher picking up the coaching honors.
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“It was a really fun year,” Troxel said. “It was awesome that we got so many to state and we had people to practice with us for state.”
In his third year with the Falcons, Fletcher guided the girls to a second-place finish at the Class 3A state tournament, while the boys were third.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Fletcher said. “You can work on different things, not just strokes, but strategy they can apply to the game and techniques that can help them in college. Our girls doubles team (Acacia Dettman and Alex Sharpe) got better every week and finished third at state. They put in the work.”
Said Troxel: “We are fortunate to have him as a coach. He sacrifices his time because he cares about us. He cares about us more than our actions on the court.”
Thompson fell short of his goal for a state title, but he was the most dominant boys player in the Mid-Columbia.
A four-time district and regional champion, Thompson had a setback in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament, dropping a 6-1, 6-2 match to eventual champion Zach Kosanke of Bellevue.
Thompson won three consolation matches to finish fifth.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Thompson said. “But it would have been nice to win.”
Thompson, who enters high-level tournaments during the summer, will play in a doubles tournament this weekend in Wenatchee with Hanford teammate Shane Sandlin.
Troxel, who finished the season 23-1, suffered her only loss of the year in the Class 3A state semifinals to eventual champion Nora Tan of Mercer Island, 6-7, 6-1, 6-1.
Troxel, a junior, came right back with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Catherine Allen of Holy Names for third place.
“I think it was a pretty good year,” Troxel said. “I tried not to go in (to state) with too high of expectations. The goal was to win, but I accomplished a lot more than I wanted to.”
Troxel, Tan and state runner-up Barbara Ann Carey of Seattle Prep are good friends and play United States Tennis Association events together.“We play a lot of USTA, but there were more nerves playing at state,” Troxel said. “USTA is just another match, but a school title is different. You don’t want to let people down.”
Troxel has one more year to win the gold, but she said next year will be different without Thompson.
“I hit with him a lot. Most of the time we get our own court,” Troxel said. “I only hit with the guys. I’m more excited for him that he is going to college and will play with great players and become better as a player and a person.”
Dettman and Sharpe join Troxel on the girls first team, while the Hanford boys doubles team of Sandlin and Quinten Dicken are on the boys first team, along with singles player Travis Zuroske of Richland.
Also on the first team are the Hermiston doubles team of Sarah Hawman and Emily Stocker, and Kennewick singles player Stephanie Buckingham, who was seventh at state.
Hawman, who finished second in doubles last year with older sister Mary, picked up a silver medal this year with Stocker in Oregon 5A doubles.
Luke Thompson, Sr., Hanford, 5th at state
Travis Zuroske, Jr., Richland
Cole Reiner, Sr., Umatilla
Rodney Bauder, Sr., Columbia-Burbank
Brett Myer, Jr.-Zach Fisher, Soph., Richland, 7th at state
Quinten Dicken, Jr.-Shane Sandlin, Jr., Hanford, 6th at state
2nd — Jonathan Abarca, Sr.-Josue Cuevas, Jr., Wahluke
2nd — Darko Stankovick, Frosh.-Sean Thompson, Frosh., Hanford
Sierra Troxel, Jr., Hanford, 3rd at state
Stephanie Buckingham, Soph., Kennewick, 7th at state
Megan Elliott, Jr. Kiona-Benton
Tasha Talbot, Sr., Richland
Sarah Hawman, Jr.-Emily Stocker, Jr., Hermiston, 2nd at state
Acacia Dettman, Sr.-Alex Sharpe, Sr., Hanford, 3rd at state
Sofia Morrison, Soph.-Sarah Morgan, Jr., Southridge, 5th at state
Jocelyn Cantu, Sr.-Yanitta Cantu, Jr. Othello, 6th at state