Jen Lewis and Hannah Gianan were not a one-hit wonder.
The Camas High School senior and sophomore validated their hard work, determination and love for tennis by capturing the Class 4A doubles state championship for the second year in a row Saturday, at the Columbia Basin Racquet Club, in Richland.
“It’s invigorating. It’s a great way to end my career here,” Lewis said. “It’s just really hard to leave these girls and coaches who have become my family.”
Lewis and Gianan weren’t surprised to see Union’s Sydney Wallace and McKenzie Schreiner on the other side of the court in the state championship match.
“They’re our biggest competitors. We faced them at districts last week, and we faced [Union] at districts, bi-districts and state last year,” Gianan said. “This is what we have been looking forward to all season. It finally came, and we were ready.”
Head coach Jonathan Burton said Lewis and Gianan got caught in a vicious cycle of hitting the ball back and forth with Wallace and Schreiner. It took an extra game for the two Papermakers to secure the first set 7-5. Lewis and Gianan turned it up a notch to claim the second set 6-3.
“Once they started mixing up their shots, that put them in a position to win the second set easily,” Burton said. “They’re remarkable. That final match was competition. The ones before provided them with very little resistance.
“Hannah’s ability to place the ball on the court and hit unusual shots is really hard to defend against. And Jen just provides consistent pressure on her opponents,” he added. “They complete the other person on the court. They encourage each other on every point. They’re everything a doubles team should be.”
Newport won the state team title with 16 points. Camas and Skyview tied for second place with 10 points each. Union and Gig Harbor followed in fourth place with nine points. Three of the top five teams at state are from the Greater St. Helens League.
“We have a very strong tennis community in Southwest Washington,” Burton said. He added that this was the best team placing for Camas since he began leading the program in 1999.
Lewis, Gianan, Esther Kwon, Meghal Sheth, Sam Merrill and Lauren Belzer could play singles and doubles. Burton, along with fellow coaches Annie and Craig Sumpter, enjoyed putting the puzzle pieces together before every match.
“It may be a while before we have a concentration of that kind of talent again,” Burton said.
Lewis told her teammates to stick with the game.
“It’s hard to go to every practice and play in every match, but it’s so worth it when you get to stand on that podium as a state champion ready to ball your eyes out because you’re going to miss everybody so much.”
Gianan might not find another partner like Lewis, but she still has a tradition to uphold for the seniors who showed her the way.
“I’m going to take myself and a few more of my teammates to state next year in honor of them going to state every year.”