Panthers get two pairs to districts

Townsend and Kelly defeat Stevens and Choi for the sub-district championship

Two heads are better than one, but four is even better.

Washougal junior Regan Townsend and sophomore Andrew Kelly teamed up to beat seniors Michael Stevens and David Choi 6-4, 6-3 Saturday, at the Mint Valley Racket Club in Longview. But this was no indoor practice. It was the championship match for the 2A sub-district doubles title.

“It felt like we were representing what Washougal is all about,” Choi said. “Our friendships are still pretty much intact.”

This is the second year in a row that two sets of Panthers played each other for the doubles championship. Coaches Eric and Linda Balholm sat back and watched Washougal take center stage.

“The championship match was in my opinion the best match of the tournament. It was hard hitting and had some great points,” Eric said. “I’m mighty proud. All four of these boys set high expectations coming into this season. Of course they took some lumps along the way, but they learned as they went, and they got better and better.”

Once Townsend and Kelly started playing doubles together, they found their comfort zone.

“We did a great job of keeping each other pumped up and motivated,” Kelly said.

“It was probably all of that effort and talking that helped us win the whole thing,” Townsend said.

Stevens and Choi solidified second place at sub-districts by defeating consolation bracket winners Tanner Ackerly and Alex Pickett of R.A. Long. The Washougal seniors, who have played nothing but doubles in the last four years, won by the scores of 6-3, 6-3.

“Communication between us is key,” Stevens said. “Whenever we talk about what we need to do between points, we both seem to be thinking about the same thing.”

“We play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and compliment each other well,” Choi added.

Townsend and Kelly, and Stevens and Choi, will represent Washougal in the 2A district tennis tournament. Matches begin Thursday, in Lacey.

“If they can be successful up there, maybe they will see state. You never know what can happen at these tournaments,” Balholm said. “We hope they thoroughly enjoy the experience, play their best tennis and leave everything on the court. At this point, they have nothing to lose.”

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