BREMERTON — The North Kitsap School District will send six athletes to the state tournament in the spring after a successfu run through the West Central District singles and doubles tournament, which ran from Oct. 27 to 28.
Leading the pack is North Kitsap’s Nate Blanchard and Justus Jagodzinske, who won three consecutive matches over the course of the two-day tournament to capture the district doubles championship.
After dispatching opponents from Fife and Franklin Pierce, Jagodzinske and Blanchard advanced to the semifinal, where they engaged with Keaton Dean and Aidan Ortega from Olympic for a rematch of the Olympic League championship final.
This time, the boys from North Kitsap were victorious, winning 6-1, 6-4, and advancing to the finals against Jordan Anderson and Cooper Schelbert of Fife.
“They kind of faltered and we just capitalized,” said North Kitsap head coach Jay DeVries. “They’re just real consistent, real smart, and very intelligent players.”
In the final match, Blanchard and Jagodzinske actually lost the first set on a 7-2 tiebreaker, but rallied back to win the next two sets, 6-4, 6-1, and take home the district crown.
North Kitsap’s Scott Lyons entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed, and had not lost a match all season. But in a semifinal match against the powerful serve of Cyrus Shaviri of Fife, Lyons lost the final two sets after winning the first, which sent him to the third place match, where he fell to an upstart freshman, Jared Zaugg, from White River. He will enter the state tournament at the No. 4 seed.
“By then, Scott was fatigued, he didn’t play his best tennis,” said DeVries. “He played really in well that first semi and kind of put it all out there the day before. But he’s a good player and he’s a great sportsman, he’s a super kid.”
On the other side of the bracket, Kingston’s Ian Schmid took the more difficult path, but qualified for the state tournament as the No. 5 seed.
Schmid took an early loss to the top seed from the South Puget Sound League, Abe Rios of Foster, who eventually went on to win the tournament. From there he had to battle through the left of the bracket to get one of the final two qualifying spots.
In what Kingston head coach Jordan Prince referred to as “one of the more remarkable matches” he has seen in his time as a coach, Schmid overcame a 6-1 loss to Hayden Woods of Port Angeles in the first set to win the second set 6-4. In the third, he was down 2-5 and fought off several match points to force, and eventually win, a tiebreaker.
“He’s a grinder, you always feel like he has a chance to come back,” said Prince. “He doesn’t miss a whole lot, he’s a good athlete, and runs court and plays defense well. He went to state last year, and got a taste of what that felt like.”
Schmid was automatically in the tournament after that win, but the momentum he gained helped him defeat Kyle Hebbler of Lindberg in another three-set thriller to earn the No. 5 seed.
In the doubles tournament, Dawson Clark and Ethan Sax defeated Dean and Ortega of Olympic to earn the No. 3 seed in the spring state tournament.
“They are two different players that have morphed into a really good doubles team,” said Prince. “Ethan has always played doubles, and he’s a good net player and has a good serve. Dawson has played singles, but moved to doubles because the two are really good friends. So he’s more comfortable from the baseline and he really developed into a smart doubles player. He’s very coachable.”
Prince said the duo had played well in their first two matches, but were not at their best against Anderson and Schelbert of Fife and lost, 6-3, 6-4.
However, they rebounded quickly against Dean and Ortega, winning 7-5, 6-0, and Prince expects his pair to do well at the state tournament.
“Talent-wise they’re right up there,” said Prince. “I had a doubles team that went to state last yer, but i think these guys are more well-rounded, there are not as many specific holes in their games.”