It was 64 degrees and sunny Friday afternoon, and the tennis balls were out in Camas.
After weeks of indoor practices and re-scheduled matches, the Papermaker girls anxiously warmed up for their first home match of the season. Dark gray clouds crept in from a distance, and the threat of rain remained constant, but the athletes, coaches and spectators did not have a care in the world. On this day, the sun ruled and the rain lost.
“I told the kids the sun would come, but I don’t think they believed me,” said Camas head coach Jonathan Burton.
Edith Arndt was on the edge of her seat before the matches even began. She could not wait to see granddaughter Annike Sumpter play tennis for the first time this spring.
“I’m her biggest fan,” she said.
Arndt was also an avid follower of daughter Annie on the tennis courts. She had a front row seat to watch the Camas Athletic Hall of Famer capture a state championship in 1977, and she is still front and center to cheer on Annike in tennis and soccer.
“She’s pretty good at soccer too,” said Arndt, who moved to Camas from Germany. “She gets that from me.”
Sumpter and partner Sydney Schwartz defeated their opponents from Prairie in straight sets Friday, by the scores of 6-2 and 6-4.
“I’m so glad the sun finally came out,” Sumpter said. “It was a good way to start off spring break.”
On March 28, Schwartz and Sumpter kicked off the season with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Columbia River. Prairie forced a 4-4 tie in the second set Friday, before the two Papermakers finished strong.
“The first set was good, but the second one could have been better,” Schwartz said.
“It’s hard going from the gym to hitting outside,” Sumpter said. “It’s nice to get our first two wins against some pretty good teams. Our goal is to win as many games as we can.”
Victories by Hanna Li (6-1, 6-2), Brie Ilarde (6-3, 6-2) and the duo of Alicia Hamlin and Dainka Jones (6-4, 7-5) helped the Papermakers beat Prairie 4-2. The Camas junior varsity team needed all the games it could get. After the two teams each won three matches, the Papermakers were awarded the tiebreaker by games 48-41.
Washougal tennis notches second in Longview
Thanks to the indoor courts in Longview, the Washougal girls have been able to play some tennis in the rain.
The Panthers captured second place at the Longview tournament March 18 and 19, at the Mint Valley Raquet Club. Amanda Acheson and Cassie Helland finished first in the doubles tournament. The teams of Shelby DeLong and Allie Reeves, and Jenna Connolly and Corrine Murphy, both took second.
“The girls only had one or two practices outdoors before going into that tournament,” said head coach Linda Balholm. “Considering that, they played really well.”
Back at Mint Valley on March 23, the Panthers defeated Mark Morris 4-2. Two days later, the girls travelled nearly 100 miles north to Centralia only to be dumped on with rain before many of them had even finished a set. Matches with Stevenson have been postponed three times, and King’s Way Christian twice.
Practicing indoors has also been an adventure. With the Washougal baseball and softball teams using the two gyms at the same time, the wrestling room has become tennis headquarters.
“The girls know how to hit on a wrestling mat,” Balholm said. “The ball takes a different bounce, but it’s still good for hand-eye coordination.”
The girls also work on weight training and conditioning, and Balholm teaches them some nutritional facts.
“We do all we can while we’re indoors to help them,” she said. “When we come back from spring break, I have a feeling there’s going to be lots of matches and only a few practices in between.”
Despite the limitations indoors, Balholm said the girls have not lost their love for tennis.
“They have all had such great attitudes. We haven’t heard any complaining,” she said. “Sometimes, we’ll even go out and hit in the rain. These girls would rather be out there hitting on a court outdoors. That’s where they want to be every day.”
No luck for baseball and softball
A break in the cycle of rain, rain and more rain Friday did not give the Washougal baseball and softball teams an opportunity to play.
Washougal baseball defeated Stevenson 19-2 in the first game of a doubleheader on March 28. The teams only got three innings into the second game before the rain returned.
Washougal and Hockinson had a doubleheader scheduled for Friday, and the weather cooperated, but the fields at both schools were still deemed unplayable.
“We should be playing today. I’m not going to lie to you,” Washougal head baseball coach Chris Brown said Friday. “I just tell the boys to hang in there. We’ll be playing games soon.”
Washougal softball had doubleheaders postponed on Wednesday and Thursday. Head coach John Carver asked if Ridgefield could come down to the George Schmid Complex for a game on Friday, but the Spudders had a game elsewhere.
“We have been out on our field to practice only one day so far this spring. The girls have kept a great attitude, considering everyone wants to go outside,” Carver said. “We will play these games eventually. All of them have been re-scheduled. That’s why it’s important for us to practice as hard as we can right now.”
Carver enjoys watching the girls improve each day. Most of them are playing softball for the first time.
“It’s neat helping girls who never knew how to bat or throw learn how to,” he said.