Richland High School has churned out good tennis players in the past, and the tradition appears to be back on track.
Sophomore Quinci Fisher and senior Nathan Lipton were named the Herald’s All-Area Tennis Players of the year after a successful spring on the courts.
“I was hoping for a good year since I play all year around,” said Fisher, who was 7-0 during the Mid-Columbia Conference regular season. “There are some really good players in the league. It was cool being one of the younger ones out there.”
Lipton, who teamed with Gray Evans to finish third at the 4A state tournament in doubles, said he was pleased with how his season came together.
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“Overall, I am pretty happy,” he said. “It has been a great year all-around for me.”
With Kennewick’s Maggie Fiocchi (two-time player of the year) opting not to play high school tennis this spring, it left the door wide open in MCC play, and Fisher confidently walked through and took charge.
“She had a great season,” Richland coach Mary Ann Payne said. “Her mental toughness has improved tremendously compared to last year. She has her moments, but she has the tools to pull herself together after a few bad points. Her ground strokes have improved. I am looking for her to do better next year and the coming years.”
And it just wasn’t the Richland coaches to who took note of her play.
“Quinci is a wonderful player,” said Kamiakin coach Sarah Miller, who was named the girls coach of the year. “She is the real deal. It was fun to watch her play.”
After the MCC regular season, Fisher won the 4A district title, placed second at regionals and earned a trip to state, where she finished 1-2.
“Honestly, my goal was to make it to state,” Fisher said. “Winning my first match was amazing. After that I was so excited I didn’t really care. I played some really amazing girls.”
Fisher opted to stay with singles in the postseason, unlike last year when she paired with Chelsea Li for doubles. They finished fifth at state, but the lure of singles was intriguing.
Fisher, who credits Will Taylor at Columbia Basin Racquet Club for helping fine-tune her game, said she has a summer of tournaments scheduled and plans on returning to the courts for the Bombers next season.
“I really enjoy playing for the school and I like my coach,” Fisher said. “It’s fun to play for the school. I have a lot of friends that I have made on the team.”
Joining Fisher on the first team are Kara Newcomb of Kamiakin, and the the doubles teams of Grace Hamaker-Teals and Devyn Wolfe of Southridge, and Olivia Szendre and Carlin Cooley of Kamiakin
On the other side of the net
Lipton went 6-1 in MCC play, dropping a three-set match to Nathan Webster of Kennewick, but that did not derail his season.
Lipton finished the regular season playing singles, then switched to double with Evans, who transferred to Richland from Chiawana.
“The plan was always to go doubles,” Lipton said. “We play together at CBRC.”
The duo meshed quickly, winning the 4A district and regional titles.
At state, Lipton and Evans reached the semifinals before losing 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 to eventual champions Andrew Chanthavong and Alex Calpagiu of Union.
They made quick work of their opponents in the third-place match, 6-3, 6-2.
“We kind of went in knowing we could take a couple of matches,” Lipton said. “I didn’t believe we would get third, but after winning the first match, I thought we had it. In the quarterfinals, we beat the top seed in the draw, but in the semifinals we just couldn’t pull it out. We realized that if we had won our semifinal match, we would have played the guys from Mead that we beat at regionals.”
This summer, Lipton plans on playing in a few tournament to get ready for college tennis. He will attend Whitworth University in Spokane, where he plans to major in pre-occupational therapy.
“I work with Scott Peterson (at CBRC) and he has helped my game,” Lipton said. “He is a really good coach and he has helped me improve in all aspects of my game — mentally, physically and strategically. He has helped in getting my name out there and getting my game to where I am able to play in college.”
Joining Lipton and Evans on the first team are singles players Will Thompson of Hanford and Colton Norsworthy of Walla Walla, and the doubles team of Parker Pontarolo and Mark Bogley of Walla Walla.
Coaches of the Year
Miller’s Kamiakin girls won the MCC regular-season title for the third consecutive season — with a perfect 7-0 record.
The Braves added the 3A district and regional titles, both of which eluded them last season.
“This is very nice honor,” said Miller, who won the honor for the second year in a row. “What a team effort. None of the eight seniors I had have ever been to state, and this is the first time any of them had played at regionals. It was a team effort, and that’s what got it done. It did not come easily. You have to stay healthy, make the grades and show up.”
Craig Klatt had the Hanford boys rolling along all season. The Falcons won the regular-season title for the second year in a row. They then picked up the 4A district title before sharing the regional title with Walla Walla.
Thompson led the way, earning a trip to state in singles, while the doubles team of Patrick Monahan and William Chiang were undefeated in league play.
“Pure luck and good kids,” Klatt said of the Falcons’ success.
2017 All-Area Tennis Team
Girls MVP: Quinci Fisher, so., Richland.
Girls Coach of the Year: Sarah Miller, Kamiakin.
First Team — Singles: Quinci Fisher, so., Richland; Kara Newcomb, sr., Kamiakin. Doubles: Grace Hamaker-Teals, jr.-Devyn Wolfe, jr., Southridge; Olivia Szendre, sr.-Carlin Cooley, sr., Kamiakin.
Second Team — Singles: Ashlynn Tate, sr., Kamiakin; Chelsea Li, sr., Richland. Doubles: Emma Van Eaton, sr.-Emily Heinrichson, so., Kamiakin; Milena Stankovic-Siena Stephens, Hanford.
Best of the rest — Celeste Pe, so., Hanford; Zoee Roylance, sr., Othello; April Buckingham, fr., Kennewick; Eden Snider, sr., Pasco.
Boys MVP: Nathan Lipton, sr., Richland.
Boys Coach of the Year: Craig Klatt, Hanford.
First Team — Singles: Will Thompson, sr., Hanford; Colton Norsworthy, sr., Walla Walla. Doubles: Nathan Lipton, sr.-Gray Evans, so., Richland; Parker Pontarolo, jr.-Mark Bogley, jr., Walla Walla.
Second Team — Singles: Evan Naef, sr., Chiawana; Daniel Cancado, sr., Southridge. Doubles: Nathan Webster, so.-Robbie Fiocchi, so., Kennewick; Patrick Monahan-William Chiang, Hanford.
Best of the rest — Tan Nguyen, jr., Kamiakin; Cai Nyby, Chiawana; Gianni Landby, sr., Southridge; Angelo Bravo, jr., Hanford; Collin Freeman, sr., Othello; Kyler Villareal, jr., Othello.