State tennis preview: Doubling up for a better chance at state

North Thurston’s Sidney Smith and Ainsley Winterrowd have paired up after disappointing showings in singles

Contributing writerMay 26, 2014 

LACEY — Change is scary, but it can open up new opportunities. Differences are challenging to overcome, but they can create new strengths.

The ongoing march through the postseason by North Thurston High School girls tennis players Sidney Smith and Ainsley Winterrowd, who won the Class 3A West Central District doubles title last weekend, offers proof.

A year ago, both girls advanced to the state tournament as singles players, but neither brought home a medal.

As the 2014 regular season drew to a close, Rams coach Cheri Campbell had a thought: Why not give Smith and Winterrowd a chance at success together that eluded them as individuals last season?

Campbell tested her theory in a late-season nonleague match against Olympia and watched as the newly matched pair fell to a seasoned Bears team of Rachel Kelson and Catty Zhang, 6-2, 6-2.

“That gave me a little bit of anxiety going into the seeding meeting, but I really thought they could do it, so I went ahead and entered them in doubles,” Campbell said.

Smith said she was excited to play doubles, but Winterrowd admitted a bit of nervousness at the idea until she took confidence in knowing that she would play with Smith, a longtime friend and Capitol City Tennis club teammate.

“I knew Sidney would have my back,” said Winterrowd, a sophomore who hopes to play NCAA Division I tennis. Smith also acknowledged the bond, saying “she’s like my little sister.”

Smith and Winterrrowd decisively beat highly regarded Lincoln juniors Lilly Le and Miriam Cabrera in the Narrows League (6-3, 6-0) and West Central (6-0, 6-4) finals, taking confidence from the belief that they were better individual players.

But it’s the way their different personalities and playing styles complement each other that has paved the way for an undefeated postseason in which they have not lost a set.

Smith, a senior who will attend Pacific University in Oregon next fall, says she is the more hyper player and that Winterrowd “keeps me level-headed; she’s more mellow.”

On the court, Winterrowd hits the ball harder, and Smith has the craftier game.

“That’s a big plus for them,” Campbell said. “If the ball is always coming to the opponents at the same speed, they can just stay back more.

“Ainsley’s more comfortable staying back hitting ground strokes. Sidney likes to come to the net more. They keep the ball coming across at different speeds, with different spins.

“They’re proving they are good tennis players, not just good singles players.”

With the Class 3A state tourney this weekend in Kennewick, Campbell’s hunch looks to be paying off.

“State will be a different level,” Winterrowd said.

But she and Smith share the same expectation, each saying, “I think we can go pretty far.”

BOYS AND GIRLS STATE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS

South Sound participants Friday and Saturday:

BOYS

Class 4A

At Richland HS and Columbia Basin Racquet Club, Richland

Olympia: Singles—Jamie Bautista, fr.; Ryan Adams, so.; doubles—Will Berghoff, jr., and Kyle Wooten, jr.

Class 3A

At Kamiakin HS and Tri-City Court Club, Kennewick

North Thurston: Doubles—Jason Agtarap, sr., and Gabriel Rush, sr.

Class 2A

At Nordstrom Tennis Center, Seattle

Black Hills: Doubles—Jimmy Do, sr., and Noah Durette, sr.

Capital: Singles—Ty Gentry, so.; doubles—Doug Doenges, sr., and Travis Miller, so.

Tumwater: Singles—David Granero, sr.; doubles—Ryan Gudbranson, sr., and Nathan Eliason, sr.

River Ridge: Singles—Jason Trinh, sr.

GIRLS

Class 4A

At Richland HS and Columbia Basin Racquet Club, Richland

Olympia: Singles—Sydney Pham, jr.; Ali Topp, fr.; doubles—Catty Zhang, sr., and Rachel Kelson, sr.

Class 3A

At Kamiakin HS and Tri-City Court Club, Kennewick

North Thurston: Doubles—Sidney Smith, sr., and Ainsley Winterrowd, so.

Class 2A

At Nordstrom Tennis Center, Seattle

Capital: Doubles—Soo Youn Park, sr., and Baylee Yost, sr.

Centralia: Singles—Anna Scheibmeir, sr.; Lillian Albright, sr.; doubles—McKailey Fast, sr., and Jaycee Foster, sr.

Tumwater: Singles—Lauren Brandt, sr.

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