POULSBO — Sunshine glistened off the rackets of each player competing in a showdown between the North Kitsap Vikings and Central Kitsap Cougars Tuesday in Poulsbo. Unfortunately for the Vikings, CK shone even brighter as it ground out a hard fought 3-2 victory and dropped North’s overall record to 1-2.
“We had too many unforced errors and we weren’t very consistent,” said Vikings coach Jay Devries. “We have to keep the ball in play (and) become more consistent.”
Despite the loss, Devries said he believes his team has the ability to win as the season progresses.
“We’re just losing close matches,” he said. “We’re not getting blown out by any stretch. We’ll get better.”
The Vikings’ best performance of the day came from the No. 1 doubles team of Joe McBurney and Connor Gallagher. The dynamic duo defeated Central’s No. 1 doubles squad of Chris Kim and Andrew Kim 2-0 (6-1, 6-1) for its third win of the season.
Devries said the currently undefeated tandem has what it takes to advance deep into the postseason.
“They are a great team and are a force to be reckoned with,” he said. “They communicate well and are good players.”
Cougars coach Christopher Floro likewise was impressed with the Vikings.
“Coming into today I knew they were going to be tough and they were,” he said. “They were all business. My No. 1 doubles team was off a shade and (North’s No. 1 doubles team) took advantage of it.”
McBurney was all over the court, using his powerful backhand over and over again, smashing shots up the line that his opponents simply couldn’t reach in time. McBurney said that was his game plan going into the match.
“I was trying to get those shots up the line past them,” he said. “We play aggressive at the net.”
McBurney’s partner between the lines agreed.
“We exploited their weaknesses at the net,” Gallagher said. “We were the more experienced team. We communicate well. The thing that makes us good is that we help each other out and fix the part of our game that we need to.”
The No. 3 doubles team of Andrew Friesen and Austin Miller picked up its first victory as a tandem this year nabbing a 2-0 (6-3, 6-4) win against Jack Cavanaugh and Kevin Barnes of Central Kitsap. Miller said the 80-degree temperatures not only had an effect on his game, but effected both teams throughout the match.
“The heat was an inhibitor to everyone out here today,” he said. “We hit our serves and kept the ball in play. It was our first match together and I think we did pretty good.”
Friesen said he enjoyed his court time with Miller.
“We seem to pick each other up,” he said. “When I’m down, Austin picks me up. When he’s down, I pick him up.”
That kind of teamwork is radiating throughout the entire team this year, Devries said.
“I’m pretty happy with the character of our team,” he said. “They all are good players who are even better people.”
The Vikings will make the trek across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge facing off against Stadium High School at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Tacoma.