When South Kitsap senior Conner Anchick views his competition, he is more concerned about what he sees in practices than games.
And for good reason.
Anchick, a senior, has battled freshman Ben Staudenraus for the Wolves’ No. 1 singles position. Staudenraus’ older brother, Blake, was a standout tennis player at South before he graduated in 2011.
Anchick said he feels the challenge at every practice.
“He’s big competition,” Anchick said. “I always say at practice that sometimes my goal is more to make sure I keep beating him than it is to beat other schools because he’s a freshman and I’m a senior.”
Both come from different backgrounds. Staudenraus grew up around the sport and attended co-coach Todd Olson’s summer camps. Meanwhile, Anchick did not play tennis before his junior year.
“I’ve played soccer my whole life,” he said. “Last year, I figured I wanted to play something in the fall. Tennis sounded kind of fun.”
Anchick ascended to the Wolves’ No. 1 singles position last season, but he said the transition was not simple.
“I could barely hit it over the net when I started,” Anchick said with a laugh.
While Anchick said his instructors deserve credit for his progression, co-coach Mark Myers said there are multiple reasons why he has become successful on the court.
“He’s just an athlete,” he said. “He’s smart, he’s competitive and he’s teachable.”
Anchick, who won two of his first three matches to start the season, said knows where he needs to improve to reach his goal, which is to compete at the Class 4A West Central District Tournament.
“My serve definitely has improved a lot from last year,” he said. “I still need to work on my groundstrokes. It just takes a lot of practice of doing the same thing over and over again.”
Myers believes Anchick can advance to the district tournament as a singles player. But he also is excited about Staudenraus’ potential — and his enthusiasm for the sport.
“I think the deal with Ben is he’ll keep playing and make tennis his priority moving forward,” Myers said.
It is not just Anchick and Staudenraus facing competition. Myers believes the No. 2 doubles team of Jonah Sauby and Jared Watson could challenge the Wolves’ top tandem: seniors Kainoa Myers and Clayton Hutchinson.
“They’re playing really well,” Mark Myers said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move up.”
He also likes the early performance of the No. 3 doubles team, which consists of Alex Hutchison and Bryce Wolfe.
“They’re both brand-new guys, but they’re both competitors and are both athletes,” Myers said. “You can’t teach competitiveness and they’ve both got it.”