Before his Capital High School boys tennis team took to the courts Tuesday to meet visiting North Thurston in a late-season clash of unbeatens in the 3A Narrows League, coach Tom Alongi asked the Cougars for focus and determination.
He got it when it mattered most as his leading singles player, Ranjan Sharangpani, only recently moved into the top slot after an AAU basketball injury sidelined Travis Miller, wore down a game Joonick Ahn, 6-4, 6-1, to clinch the team match, 3-2.
Sharangpani claimed many a lengthy point as both players banged away from the baseline.
“It gets nerve-racking,” the sophomore said of the extended rallies. “But there are some things I like about it. I wanted to play within myself and be aggressive without taking any crazy risks.”
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Earlier, Capital’s second doubles team, Ian VanDusen and Aidan Short, had fought through a tough second set to beat Ethan Kimsey and Jeremiah Morse, 6-2, 7-5.
North Thurston (6-1 in the 3A Narrows, 8-3 overall) started the match in high gear as longtime doubles partners Thomas Sui and Michael Campbell scored an efficient 6-1, 6-0 win over Clint Tosland and Matthew Monk.
Though only sophomores, Sui and Campbell have played together for four years, starting in club tennis, and it showed as they covered the court and found the right placements to finish points against Capital (6-0, 7-3).
“We’d like to place at state this year,” said Campbell. The pair reached the 3A state tournament a year ago and won a match before being eliminated.
In second singles, North Thurston’s Ryan Joiner topped Spencer Rex, 6-4, 6-2, while in third doubles, Capital’s Kaden Dagher and William Jia downed Brendan Min and Nicholas Holliday, 6-1, 6-3.
North Thurston coach Fred Reed was upbeat despite the Rams’ first defeat in league play.
“Everybody loses at some point,” he said. “The cool thing is to show you can bounce back. The idea is to go to subdistricts and start to peak there. If we do, we can do some great things this season.”
Capital has a match remaining, at Shelton (5-1, 6-4) on Thursday, and can either clinch first place or, if the Highclimbers win, see the 3A Narrows standings wind up with a three-way tie at the top.