It’s only fitting that Luke Thompson would like to win the 3A regional tennis title this weekend. He has three regional titles already, and to have a fourth would go nicely with the four CBBN district titles the Hanford senior already has won.
“It’s nice to win,” said Thompson, who has a vast collection of medals. “My first two years, there was a lot more competition. Now, I have to keep playing the same guy (Aaron Farmer of West Valley) every tournament. He’s not my favorite guy to play. He’s never beaten me, but he got close a couple of years ago.”
Thompson drew a bye in the first round of Saturday’s regional at University High School in Spokane. Action begins at 11 a.m. with the first round. Thompson will face the winner of the Mitch Anderson (West Valley)-Caleb Deibel (Mt. Spokane) match at 1 p.m.
The top three players in singles and the top three doubles teams advance to the 3A state tournament May 25-26 in Kennewick.
Bill Fletcher, who is in his third year with the Hanford tennis program, said coaching Thompson has been a lot of fun.
“He’s been easy to deal with, and ego has never been a problem,” Fletcher said. “He’s ranked in the Northwest, but he still likes to play high school tennis. He’s by far the most modest kid. He downplays everything. He supports everyone from the No. 3 doubles on up, and he’s supportive of the younger players.
“He is a great ambassador for the team.”
Thompson went undefeated in league play this season and won the CBBN district title last week by default over Farmer, who claimed he had back spasms. He also won the Inland Empire tournament in Spokane and the Coke Invite in Yakima. He was third in doubles at the Tri-City Invite with teammate Quinten Dicken.
“To be honest, there was no way we should have lost,” Thompson said the Tri-City Invite. “I had some shoulder problems and a groin injury at the time, and I played horrible.”
Thompson said he’s healthy now, which only makes him more dangerous this weekend.
“He is the best singles player in the valley,” Fletcher said. “He has the ability to hit just about any shot, he can serve and volley, and he can slice better than anyone else. The wind bothers a lot of kids, but not him. He drives the ball through the wind. He just has a great all-round game.”
All of the district and regional titles are nice, but Thompson, who is vying for his fourth consecutive trip to state, would like to add a state title to his collection before he bids Hanford High adieu.
He was sixth at state his freshman year, but he did not place as a sophomore. Last year, he finished third, going 3-1 with his lone loss in the semifinals to eventual state champion Reid deLaubenfelds of Nathan Hale.
Thompson’s top competition this year could be Jordan Smith of Mercer Island, last year’s runner-up. Smith beat Thompson in the state quarterfinals during their sophomore year.
“I definitely want to win this year,” Thompson said. “That was the only time (Smith) has beaten me. When I lost to him, I was up and lost my confidence in the second set. I haven’t played him since.”
Thompson has worked hard for his success. Hours of lessons and summers full of tournaments, where he takes his lumps instead of giving them.
“I have been playing for awhile, probably more than a lot of other players in the state,” Thompson said. “I’m done playing junior tournaments (in the summer), but I will play in open tournaments this summer. I did that a little last year and will do more this year. Last summer, I didn’t even make it into the main draw, but I love going to those tournaments. It’s fun watching those guys and seeing how good you have to be to play at that level. They are really good.”
Thomspon has had success in doubles playing with Clint Vidano from Wenatchee.
“I’m way better in doubles,” Thompson said. “I’ve been playing with Clint for a long time.”
Thompson plans to attend Eastern Washington University in the fall. Gonzaga was Thompson’s first choice of schools, but the Bulldogs weren’t willing to offer him a scholarship of any size, and told him he could walk on if he wanted.
“Eastern is a better fit for me,” he said.