EAST BREMERTON — Garrett Lawson got off to a slow start in the Olympic League championship final against Sequim’s Nico Zangaro. In the first set, he’d hit a few shots he didn’t like and was visibly upset by them.
Lawson was near the net when Zingaro hit a volley high over his head. He raced back and nearly did a split to get to the ball and returned it successfully. His opponent’s next shot went into the net and Lawson got the point. It was a major turning point in the match for the Bremerton senior, even if he wasn’t too sure how he’d done it.
“I can’t actually bend like that,” Lawson said. “I don’t know how I do that when I’m playing.”
Lawson went on to take both sets 6-3, 6-3, and finished as the Olympic League champion for the second year in a row. Along the way he defeated Jason Hart of North Kitsap, 6-0, 6-0, Caleb Flodstrom of Port Angeles, 6-1, 6-0, and Chris Schuchart of North Kitsap 6-2, 6-2 before beating Zingaro in the finals.
“I think I could have played a little bit better,” Lawson said. “I had a couple of games where I got 99 percent of the way there and lost six points in a row. But he’s [Zingaro] really consistent, he’s a tough player to play against.”
As part of a Navy family, Lawson has spent much of his young life moving from place to place. Before arriving in Bremerton last year, he lived in Okinawa, Japan for several years, and also spent time living in Italy.
And he’s also relatively new to tennis. Up until the start of ninth grade, his athletic career had consisted of “a week of soccer” at a young age. But just before the start of high school, he decided to give it a try.
Just a couple of years later, and he’s already a two-time league champion and he’s hoping to make his second consecutive appearance at the 2A state tournament in Seattle.
He finished sixth in the district tournament last year, and went 1-2 at the state — losing both matches to players who eventually placed — but Lawson believes he will turn in a much better performance in 2019.
“I’ve practiced a lot more and now I know what to expect at district and state,” Lawson said. “It’s good to have that extra year of experience.”
North Kitsap sends a singles player and three doubles teams to districts
The Vikings will be well-represented at the Kitsap Tennis and Athletic Center next week as seven players will play in the 2A West Central District III tournament.
The doubles pair of Logan Chmielewski and Cole Walker defeated Milo Whitman and Wyatt Hall of Port Angeles, 6-4, 6-3, in the Olympic League finals. North Kitsap also had the doubles pairs of Jimmye Jordan and Carl Burchill and Josh Smith and Drake Jones reach the third/fourth place game. Jordan and Burchill came out on top to take third.
Chris Schuchart finished third in the singles tournament and will move on to districts as well. Kingston’s Ryan Guedea finished fifth and will serve as an alternate.